“The Power” Gives the Upper Hand to the Girls, Gives Us the Gays

This review will include mild spoilers for the first four episodes of The Power, mostly about the gay and trans characters.

Prime Video’s The Power imagines a world where, after generations of oppression, nature decides to even the playing field a bit and gives women their power back.

And I do mean that literally. Teen girls around the world start to realize they have the ability to shoot sparks from their fingertips thanks to a brand new organ that developed in their collarbone; and of course this happening all over the world all at once causes a bit of pandemonium.

Based on Naomi Alderman’s book of the same name, the show follows a variety of different characters all over the world as this power awakens. Tatiana, the first lady of Moldova, who grew up an Olympic gymnast with an abusive mother; Tunde, a Nigerian vlogger with dreams of being a journalist who goes to Saudi Arabia to document the revolution; Jos Cleary-Lopez (played by queer actor Auli’i Cravalho) and her mother Margot who is the mayor of Seattle.

The Power: Auli'i Cravalho as Jos holding a paper she just set on fire with her powers

Angry teen girl with mommy issues, yes please!

AndAnd I’m delighted to report that there is not one, but two different storylines that involve LGBTQ+ characters.

The first is Roxy, the lesbian daughter of a British mob boss. At first, when her father offered her a job in the countryside and suggested she could find a nice boyfriend “…or girlfriend, whatever” I wasn’t sure if he was just stereotyping her because she’s more like her rough and tumble half-brothers than her hyper-feminine mother. But then she ends up making out with a girl in the alley so they wasted no time letting us know exactly what’s up. Roxy is desperate for her father’s approval (her father who, by the way, accused Roxy of being “too emotional” to handle the business when he literally punched a wedding cake because it was green mere moments ago) and when she discovers her spark, she tries to use it to prove she can be just as useful as her brothers.

The Power: Roxy stands up to her father

I hope Roxy learns she shouldn’t have to beg for her father’s love.

She’s not a particularly likable character, on purpose, even though sometimes you can’t help but root for her. But what’s great about that, and what more shows should do, is that you don’t have to like Roxy just because she’s gay. Too often in shows I find myself trying harder than I should have to just to defend or like a character because they’re the only queer character; but not in The Power! Because there are more queer characters to choose from!

In the Bible Belt of the United States a Black girl named Allie finds herself in a foster home with older white foster parents. The man is abusive, and at the same time Allie’s spark is unlocked, she gets a voice in her head; a voice she identifies as God, a voice I identified as sci-fi icon Adina Porter. She uses her powers to escape, and eventually finds herself at a girls’ home run by rebel nuns. (Not to be confused with Warrior Nuns.) They were nuns that supported things like human rights for LGBTQ+ people and therefore not allowed in the church properly, so they started their own nunnery. Among these nuns is Sister Maria, a trans woman played by Daniela Vega, who is gentle and kind to Allie, and all the girls.

The Power: Sister Mary stands in front of her girls

Nuns who actually believe in “love thy neighbor” WHAT A CONCEPT

The head nun, Sister Veronica, is wary of these new powers, but Allie’s voice encourages her to take charge, and before long the voice in her head confirms she has found her family, as the girls start to follow her lead when she uses her powers to do things like bring a bird back to life and stop a girl’s seizures that usually last for hours after only a few minutes.

Among the girls in this new found family of Allie’s is Gordy and Luanne, who decide one night to experiment with their powers…sexually. Gordy is gender non-conforming and adorable, and Luanne is fat and beautiful, and I love them so much, your honor. They are not hugely developed as characters yet, but I’m hoping that changes as Allie continues to build her relationship with the girls. But the scene they did have in the chapel while all the girls were unwinding and enjoying a metaphorical sigh of relief away from the prying eyes of the nuns was very sweet and cute and JOYFUL.

The Power: Gordy and Luanne kiss

I love a little Christian rebellion!

If I hadn’t just lived through how media the world over handled the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I might have found the response to the outbreak of girls with powers a little far-fetched, but as we unfortunately know all too well, the fact that it started with news outlets declaring it all a hoax is quite believable. And maybe my own sheltered, naïve, teen self might have found the immediate outlawing of the powers, forced quarantining, people outing each other, and capital punishment a bit overdramatic…but unfortunately it doesn’t look all that different from the anti-trans and anti-abortion laws plaguing us today.

To that end, at times the metaphors seem a bit on the nose — for example, when Jos says, “A whole chapter on the French revolution, when am I going to use that in my life?” juxtaposed with the women of Saudi Arabia having a literal revolution; or how Margot’s (straight, white, cis male) boss says things to her like “calm down” and “don’t get hysterical” — but it’s also cathartic in a way. To be reminded that there’s a spark in all of us, and just because they tell us we’re not allowed to use it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Doesn’t mean we can’t. And the parts that might sound redundant to folks who are constantly reading about and engaging in topics like these might be new to some people who don’t. Like when Tunde’s new friend Nourah says “I want change, but I’m not fighting to leave.” It’s something you hear people in Florida or Texas say all the time; and maybe this will reach the ears of people who don’t doomscroll on Twitter 24/7 like I do.

One of my favorite aspects of the spark these teen girls find themselves with is that the organ exists in older women, too, but they need a teen girl to jump start it for them. It reminds me of how I feel when I see Gen Z influencers on TikTok just saying no to established systems; no to gender constructs, no to staying in the closet. In using their voice, they’re reminding so many of us of older generations who have grown a bit weary that just because our voices are hoarse from years of yelling doesn’t mean we can’t still be heard.

I have a few things I want the show to address. I want them to address non-binary people and where they fall in all this; and my preference would be they all have sparks regardless of sex assigned at birth. I want one of the younger girls at the group home to spark — either on purpose or accidentally — Sister Maria and I want her to have a spark, too.

Overall I’m enjoying the show, enjoying seeing the interpretations of how this sudden movement might look in different parts of the world. It’s not unbelievable how quickly things escalate — from full rebellions in some areas to mandated separation in others (aka a “no girls on the bus” policy.) It’s interesting to see who embraces their powers and who doesn’t; how some people will use it to get revenge, some to defend themselves, some will abuse the power, and some just use it to start their generators or make a fire to keep warm. It begs the question: what would you do if you suddenly found you had more power than you realized?

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Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 550 articles for us.


  1. Thank you for this review!

    I read the book several years ago and have to say I was pretty disappointed with where the author took it. Great premise that wasn’t done justice due to some pretty binary thinking, if I remember correctly. My takeaway was that basically the author is saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely” but like…I think you can only believe that if you have never broken yourself out of white/western heteropatriarchical thinking or explored the idea that there are lots of other types of power than just “power over”/dominance. It kinda felt like the feminist equivalent of a reverse racism fantasy…and why prop that up, y’know?

    I’m glad the show is giving us more queer storylines but I disliked the book enough to be very skeptical about spending any more time with this text.

    • That’s not what Naomi Alderman wanted to say with the book. It’s a parody/social commentary of what MEN do, every single day of our lives ! By the author own words – obviously she explains the concept better: “Nothing happens to a man in this book that is not happening right now to a woman somewhere in the world. If my novel is a dystopia then we are living in a dystopia right now. Men are more horrified by this book than women. Which is as it should be, and is part of the point I think. Men look at me like a monster for writing these things and I have to point out that I wasn’t the one who invented the ideas of rape, of sexual slavery, of imprisoning the physically weaker gender, of genital mutilation to stop the physically weaker gender from enjoying sex, of selective abortions of one gender. I didn’t invent any of those things, I just picked them up and turned them over like an hourglass, to see how they looked upside down. And the answer is: it just feels different when the gun is pointed between your eyes than it does to watch it being pointed at someone else. It just does feel more real and more horrifying when you’re the one at risk.”

      • I mean sure – I can appreciate the catharsis of revenge fantasy. Thank you for sharing the author’s commentary. I just don’t personally need to see men suffer to understand that abuse of power is wrong, or that the status quo is messed up. And in sketching out the revenge fantasy, the author introduced a bunch of unsympathetic women characters while also absolving individual men of being agents of the patriarchy (if ANYONE in power would be abusive, then is it really any one man’s fault? #notallmen). Which is, like, not the representation I think we need?

        The book felt very straight, white feminist to me. It fits in too well with the whataboutist arguments that are anti-abolitionist – like “well who are you gonna call when someone robs you, HUH? If you hate the police so much, you must love chaos!”

        Which is just really reductionist, because abolition is about changing the status quo itself, not just changing who is in power within the same structure…This book flipped the status quo without actually questioning it.

        But hey, maybe I’m just not the target audience. I can see how this story would be, like, mindblowing for plenty of men who’ve never considered that women are people and have feelings.

        • It’s a book aimed to men, infact. But Naomi forgot one simple thing: most of the men who should change their attitude (because they are used to the abuse and oppression of women they don’t even acknowledge it) won’t understand its meaning, because the toxic masculinity is so embedded in them (coupled with their misogyny and stupidity) that it would only look as a feminazi book/tv-series to them.
          They will laugh at this work and think ”yeah nice ladies fantasy, to sleep well in the nights, but each new day you are going back to the standard world again ! AHAH !”
          So yes, it’s kind of pointless. Even a lot women thought ”we would not be that bad if we had a superior physical strenght” when reading the book, missing completly its meaning, and readers have normally a superior IQ compared to generic TV viewers, so you can imagine what impact this series can have to all the troglodites who never reads a single book and only watch TV all over the world (besides, I don’t even think this is going to be watched in Muslim countries or similar, where women are oppressed by default by religions too, they are nothing but baby factories… can’t read, go to school, have a job, need to put the veil and so on !)

          • Hey, just a gentle reminder that your comment really feeds into a lot of anti-Muslim stereotype, particularly in White queer western (very privileged) discourse, and ignores the very real scholarship around female agency in many parts of the Middle East. I was also surprised at the rhetoric in this article toward the end regarding people who choose to remain in these US areas (like Texas and Florida), which was very dismissive (it felt like) of the very real people who currently choose to live in their communities in the south/Texas/other places that are not politically aligned with their rights and liberties. These places are our places and the communities there are worth fighting for. I don’t think the OP had the intention of saying that’s not true but it did feel…dismissive. Thanks for the review, though, it was very interesting.

    • I haven’t read the book but this is exactly how I felt looking it up after watching a couple of episode of the show, and seing the direction the book went. As you said, way too binary way of thinking. Extremely disappointing.

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