“The Handmaid’s Tale” serves as a visually striking and chilling reminder of what can happen when power falls into the wrong hands and people remain silent about it.
The new Hulu original series premiered on April 26 to show their adaptation of the well-known dystopian novel of the same name, written by Margaret Atwood and originally published in 1985.
Set in the future, the story takes place in the fundamentalist totalitarian society of Gilead that has been established in what was previously known as the United States.
Gilead was founded in hopes that returning to “traditional values” would solve societal issues like diminished birthrates and environmental disasters.
The story’s main character is Offred, played by Elisabeth Moss. She, along with other women, are ripped from their previous lives and their families and forced to join the caste referred to as the Handmaids.
As the only remaining fertile women, Handmaids are paired up with Commanders and their Wives and forced to attempt to give them children and increase the population.
The Handmaids are under constant government surveillance and are taught to distrust even each other. They must travel in twos to do their daily shopping at the market, supposedly for companionship and protection.
Offred initially explains the relationship she has with her companion Ofglen by simply stating that “she is my spy and I am hers.”
Despite the horrific circumstances, Offred’s narration brings a dark sense of humor to her observations and she promises to survive and find out what happened to the daughter that was stolen from her.
It seems that a television adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale” could not come at a more appropriate time given the current political and social climate.
This story’s depictions of rape culture, patriarchy and the government policing and regulation of women’s bodies directly address the experiences that women currently have and have had for centuries.
The entire story drips with relevance, and on screen it comes across as a combination of a creepy horror movie and a cautionary tale. Visually, its rich colors against a somewhat muted scenery give the series a beautiful nightmarish quality.
The flashbacks that Offred experiences show her character living in a modern time, where citizens are fleeing to Canada, the environment is being destroyed by chemical pollution and women are protesting to defend their rights.
The parallels to today’s society are spelled out clearly and precisely, no coincidence about it.
One of the most haunting and resonating lines in the first episode was spoken by Aunt Lydia, who runs the Red Center where Handmaids are trained for their role as sexual servants.
“This may not seem ordinary to you right now, but after a time it will. This will become ordinary.”
The first three episodes of season one are now streaming on Hulu.
New episodes will be released every week on Wednesdays.