Sunday, November 28

Margaret Atwood Adaptation Alias Grace Is An ‘Unsettling ,’ Tightly Focused Miniseries

On the heels of Hulu’s critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning miniseries The Handmaid’s Tale comes another Margaret Atwood adaptation in the form of Netflix’s Alias Grace — but the hosts of Bingeworthy are split on whether it lives up to its predecessor.

Written by Sarah Polley and directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho), the six-episode historical drama stars Sarah Gadon as an Irish domestic servant accused of murder. While Bingeworthy‘s Jessica Shaw found Alias Grace riveting, her co-host Touré had a different experience.

“I love this show so much,” Shaw says in the latest episode of Bingeworthy. “You know I was crazy about Handmaid’s Tale — we both were. It was just absolutely brilliant. And this show takes another Margaret Atwood book that is so much more intimate.”

With regard to Harron, Shaw says, “She shoots the scenes of this show in such close-up, it is very disturbing and unsettling to watch. And it’s just essentially a psychologist [played by Edward Holcroft] interviewing this woman, Grace, about what happened, and did she or did she not murder someone else under her roof?”

Touré also loved Handmaid’s Tale, he says. “But so much of what I loved about it was the political underpinnings and the resistance and the oppression and the normalization of oppression and repression. This is like Handmaid’s with none of that, and just a very close focus on the women and their lives.

“And the first 30 or so minutes I was into it,” he continues. “I liked the character they were setting up, I liked the world they were setting up, it is visually beautiful — and then it sort of just dropped off this cliff. It became so minutely about this woman’s world that I could not follow them into, and then I was like, ‘Did my kid hit a button and suddenly I’m watching Downton Abbey?’”

Though Shaw acknowledges there are “so many bonnets,” she praises Alias Grace‘s overall quality and tight running time. “It is strong, and it is powerful, and it is gripping, and it is six hours,” she says.

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