If you have not yet seen The Handmaid’s Tale, you are already missing out. Based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, Hulu has taken the tremendous task of adapting in on the screen. With 8 episodes already out, I am anxiously awaiting for the rest.
The story is set in a totalitarian society called Gilead which used to be a part of the United States. Due to the fact of the plummeting birth rate and all the environmental disasters that have been happening in the world, a bunch of males get together and decide that they will make a fundamentalist regime and treat women as property of the state, in the name of religion. This way, the fertile women of society are gathered and then forced to sexually serve the country, for the greater good.
The transformation starts slowly, first they attack some centers until finally, they destroy families and tear children from their mothers. They send the infertile women to colonies, they punish the gays and label them as ‘gender traitors’ and the fertile women are taken to camps where they are trained to be handmaids. A handmaid is a fertile woman who is sent to an elite household to bear children to the commander of the house. Every month a ‘ceremony’ is held where the commander has to try to impregnate the handmaid, who is laying in the commander’s wife lap.
Fair warning, this show is not for the weak of heart. Your stomach might turn more than once and you might feel frustrated constantly. The story follows Offred, who was separated from her husband and daughter to serve one of the most influential commanders of the country. This is the thing, the women do not even have names, they forget their old ones and employ the names of their commanders, thus her name means ‘Of Fred’ just like property.
One of the most amazing things about the show is the acting. There is some great acting. Starting from the main role of Elizabeth Moss who portrays Offred who shows immense restraint in scenes where she is treated as anything but human. This will make you tear everything around you. Offred plays a hard and difficult game just for the ultimate survival of uniting with her family. Paired with some great performances from her best friend Moira, portrayed by Orange is the New Black’s Samira Wiley and Alexis Bledel, who was the one who surprised me most. The usual stiff acting and the type-casting is not present here. Just with the power of her eyes, Offglen shows how powerful she is, even though she does not have another choice.
All of this is topped with the visual scenes. The show is so visually stunning. The landscapes are breathtaking. The green versus the red colors show the contrast between the women beautifully. The elite versus the lower classes. Nevertheless, one question remains… are the women that much different?
I have to say that I really felt this feeling of oppression while I was watching, I felt claustrophobic and trapped and this led me to think: are we really that far off from this happening? There are actually parts in the world where this IS happening. It definitely makes one appreciate life more.
The show is definitely a must-see. In its darkest moments it shows a power and that power is fueled by hope. It is a cinematic masterpiece which has already been renewed for season two. Until then I will leave you with a piece of advice from Offglen:
Which translates, as the commander says ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down!’