Netflix is developing a miniseries described as a combination of period drama richness and Serial-esque mystery and tension, and they’ve assembled a top-notch team to pull it off. The streaming service announced today that filmmaker Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz, Stories We Tell) is writing and producing a six-hour miniseries adaptation of the Margaret Atwood historical novel Alias Grace, which revolves around an 1843 murder trial and conviction. Moreover, American Psycho director Mary Harron is set to helm, with production on track to begin in Ontario this August.
The wildly compelling synopsis is as follows:
The story of Alias Grace follows Grace Marks, a poor, young Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Upper Canada who, along with stable hand James McDermott, was convicted of the brutal murders of their employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery, in 1843. James was hanged while Grace was sentenced to life imprisonment. Grace became one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of 1840s Canada for her supposed role in the sensational double murder, and was eventually exonerated after 30 years in jail. Her conviction was controversial, and sparked much debate about whether Grace was actually involved in the murder, or merely an unwitting accessory.
In a statement, Polley says she’s been poring over Atwood’s book for the last 20 years, “trying to get to the bottom of it,” and it certainly makes for fascinating fodder for a Netflix miniseries. As Atwood did with the book, the miniseries will include the fictional character of Simon Jordan, a young doctor who researches the case and begins to fall in love with Grace, complicated by the fact that she’s a convicted murderer.
A release date has yet to be set, but Alias Grace will be broadcast in Canada on CBS and will stream everywhere globally on Netflix.