I’ve waited a long time to watch The Handmaid’s Tale. The previews never really told you what the show would be about; I just knew it would be dark and stunning. The blood red cloaks and white Puritan bonnets against backgrounds painted with subservience does more than just tell a story; It’s visually artistic in it’s own right and that dramatic tone never falters.
The theme is terrifying. A “plague” of infertility sweeps the planet, leaving society in an uproar and our government looking for new ways to overreach its power. You watch the slow transition from freedom to being powerless through the flashbacks of Offred (June), the main protagonist. Rights were stripped from everyone, but women in particular bore the brunt of governmental and religious collusion. They lost their rights to work, own property, and govern their own bodies.
Inevitably, everyone is brought to the chopping block if they don’t meet the standard of the new regime. Artists, teachers, LGBT, and even priests were hung on display for passersby to know and understand the consequence of stepping out of line. Anyone with a past deemed unacceptable was either executed or sent to “the colonies” where you could only work for a short time before “your skin will peel off in sheets and you will die”. Sounds pretty terrible. The only time your past was forgiven is if “God” had seen fit to make you a fertile female. You were allowed to live so the chosen men could use you as breeding cattle. The breeding cattle are known as “The Handmaids” so now you understand the perspective of this entire show; a woman who used to have a life all her own is now being forced to have sex with a particular man so that she may bear his child. Every handmaid is assigned to a man. The kicker? These men have devout and barren wives who hold the handmaids down as their husbands have their way. If the handmaid becomes pregnant and carries to term, in true biblical fashion the barren wife sits behind the laboring handmaid and pretends to birth the baby herself. Honestly, that was the most disturbing scene to me, but the show as a whole definitely strikes a chord. This is what happens when we allow our rights to be pilfered away and we don’t defend those who are not like us. If you think you’re safe, you should know the threat always lies just beyond your doorstep. This show gives you insight into what happens when some are brutalized and others are complacent and when religion meets law.
This blog was full of spoilers, but please watch “The Handmaid’s Tale” when you get the chance. There are three episodes so far but another one drops tomorrow on Hulu!