This dark Western set in 19th-century Alberta follows a group of women struggling to survive after most of the men in their town are massacred.
Lasting only one season, on Canadian television, Strange Empire follows a group of women that have basically been abandoned on the frontier to fend for themselves, and to fight off the powerful local landowner, who’d just as soon see them all employed in his brothel.
This dark Western drama never seems exactly certain of what it’s trying to be, but still manages to succeed at telling compelling stories about women, including women of color, during a pretty rough time in history to be female, especially on the frontier.
I’ve never seen most of the actors in anything else, but maybe you have.
Cara Gee as Kat Loving
Kat is a mother and a wanted criminal, just trying to protect her family, and either find or avenge her missing husband.
Tattiawna Jones as Isabelle Slotter
Isabelle is a madam and medium, mourning the loss of her child, and married to the biggest S.O.B on the frontier. This actress can also be seen in The Handmaid’s Tale (which I haven’t watched – don’t @ me).
Melissa Farman as Dr. Rebecca Blithely
Autistic, and trained as a doctor, Rebecca is always unexpected.
Aaron Poole as Captain John Slotter
The mine owner, and horror show, is riddled with daddy issues.
Tahmoh Penikett as Marshal Caleb Mecredi
The hot marshall isn’t in nearly as many episodes as I’d like him to be. Luckily, Tahmoh has been in a ton of my favorite genre shows.
Couch-Sharing Capability: Wagon Train
Share this with the people in your life who could most benefit from some kickass feminism. Got any friends who love history? Who loved Deadwood? Who dig Canadian productions? Bring them all along! Although, as a word of caution, this can be a violent and profane show, that is about a seriously un-PC time period. For anyone who’s bothered by that, this is probably not your jam.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: All The Brown Liquor
Just based on this show, I can only assume there was no other drink besides whiskey available in 1869. I recommend you stay on theme. Play the Strange Empire drinking game! Every time you want to murder Slotter, take a shot. You’re welcome.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Powerful
This is a deeply weird, and unsettling show. But also, extremely satisfying in many ways. I’ve never seen anything like it. And even though we have a lot more opportunities to see stories like these on screen these days, let’s get real. It’s never going to be enough. So, even though it was cancelled after only one season, I’m grateful it was made, and that there are more women’s stories like this one.