Netflix’s new series is really something. I started to watch it, and I did not let go until I finished it. Fortunately it has only six episodes. If it had more I would have end up spending all night watching it and tomorrow’s day at work would be a nightmare.
Based on real life events and Margaret Atwood’s novel from 1996, we are watching a story of powerlessness and abuse in 19th century Canada.
When 16 years old Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) ends up accused of murdering her employer and his mistress, she ends up firstly sentenced to death but then the verdict gets changed to life sentence. In the correction system, she gets brutally tested and abused for she claimed she does not remember the exact murders committed by James McDermott (Kerr Logan) and herself. The abuse had horrifying elements, rape, physical violence, being locked up in a coffin, name calling, intimidation, etc. You name it.
Throughout the story we also learn about the position of women in 19th century Canada but also about the position of those with no wealth or power, such as maids whom “gentleman” wanted to use to satisfy their needs even though they knew this would destroy lives of those poor women and push them to death.
We also see how human mind works, and some common stereotypes of psychiatrists are re-enforced here for doctor Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft) ends up being so shaken up with the case and interviews he had with Grace for two years that he leaves his profession and goes to war only to return injured and unstable himself.
Even today we witness the lack of power and equality of women, which is why I find it appalling that some women denounce feminism as unnecessary. There are still too many men such as James McDermott who can’t stand getting orders from women.
Equally, there are still too many ethnic groups being stigmatised and discriminated. As Grace says in the series, she felt as if her “confession” to be from Ireland was a crime and she testifies she has seen it too many times to be treated as such. Many Irish will identify with this but not just the Irish. Jews have always identified with this view, and recently some Muslims will find themselves in this too. Along with Europeans from any European country during some of the anti-EU rallies in the UK. The list could go on…
This series is a must watch for everyone, especially in the light of a disgraceful sex scandal in Hollywood and elsewhere that show that the struggle is still not over. Not for women, not for poor and not for powerless.
Thank you for reading.