TV Review: “The Handmaid’s Tale” – Hauntingly Realistic

Written by Sydney O'Keefe July 03, 2017

the handmaid's tale

With the recent American election many activists have drawn comparisons to Hulu’s new series, The Handmaid’s Tale. Elizabeth Moss stars as Offred and Alexis Bledel as Ofglen. It’s a dystopian world where Gilead’s (previously known as America) most  precious commodity is fertile women. The oppressive depiction of America’s future is adapted from Margret Attwood’s renowned novel The Handmaid’s Tale that was published in 1980s.  The story offers a harsh theory of what American society could come to if it continues to treat women as objects.

The story focuses on the life of Offred’s, previously known as June, life. It begins with the state of America 3 years after a revolt that lead to the creation of Gilead. Offred has been separated from her husband and daughter and forced into the role of a handmaid. Taken from the bible, the handmaid acts as a vessel for birthing between high ranking men, called Commanders, and their barren wives. Once a month the handmaid lays in bed, her head in the wife’s lap, while she is raped by the commander. After becoming pregnant and giving birth, the child would be taken from its mother and given to the commander and his wife. In the new America women are prohibited from reading and entering certain areas. They are meant to be seen and not heard. But Offred and the other handmaids learn that together they can change the world and make the world a better place for their daughters. The audience is left with the imagery of uniformed Handmaids walking in tandem with the purpose of resistance.

“It’s their own fault. They should have never given us uniforms if they didn’t want us to be an army.”

Offred’s struggle to stay alive eventually transforms into a fight for her identity and her daughter’s future. With her life in tatters and feeling completely alone, Offred learns to take back her own name and resist the demise of women’s liberation. There are countless other women living the same nightmare as her. So instead of giving up hope for a better future for her daughter, Offred joins the resistance.

the handmaid's tale

Offred realizes that she has no options and must do what the Commander, Fred, and his wife, Serena Joy, ask her too. The comparison to the conservatives attempts to take away a woman’s right to choose is completely evident. Offred is forced to become an incubator and blatantly says that “I have no choices.” The political associations show a satirical version of America that is frighteningly realistic. It’s the shockingly realistic script is what makes The Handmaid’s Tale so startling and impactful. As we slowly see flashbacks show the America we know now dwindle into the Gilead of the future. The instigators slowly take away women’s rights which lulls Americans into complacency. The future commanders use the political unrest brought on by food shortages and mass infertility to justify their actions in a shockingly realistic fashion.

“Whether this is my end or my new beginning, I have no way of knowing. I’ve given myself over into the hands of strangers. I have no choice. It can’t be helped. And so I step up into the darkness within or else the light.”

Ofglen is a lesbian forced into being a handmaid who secretly resists the government of Gilead. Ofglen is forced to undergo mutilation and torture for her resistance. The audience empathises with her throughout the cruelty she endures. Ofglen is played by Alexis Bledel who is best known as Rory in Gilmore Girls. The innocence of Bledel’s appearance coupled with her being known for playing an sweet albeit naïve child, makes Bledel’s character particularly heartbreaking.

the handmaid's tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is a haunting realistic dystopian story that shows how quick everything can change. The rise and fall of democracy is cyclical and can happen to any nation, no matter its strength. The political implications of the series is completely evident as we see Americans seek asylum in Canada and create “Little America”.  Elizabeth Moss is able to depict the inherent humanness of women and expertly illustrate the struggles of the universal woman in a hauntingly moving performance.

My Rating: 9/10

the handmaid's tale

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