While watching The Handmaid’s Tale, I can’t help but think two things: One, poor Rory Gilmore and Zoey Bartlet! You had everything going for you! And two, why does this premise seem so painfully, presently relevant?
Although Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, the novel was quite prescient. While reading it, I was often shaken by how much the content, especially the discussion of women’s roles, seemed to parallel today’s political rhetoric. Elisabeth Moss, in adapting the film, chose the most opportune time in recent history to expand upon this story.
I won’t spoil the show for you, although I will say it focuses on a dystopian America. However, unlike The Hunger Games, which seems too far-fetched to be deemed entirely relatable, The Handmaid’s Tale feels real. It feels possible, and as an American female viewer, I keep having to remind myself that circumstances aren’t truly this dire. (–Don’t get me wrong, they’re dire. Just not, ‘entire restructuring of society, strange sexual rituals’ dire.)
More and more, I expect to see women taking on especially feminist roles. It’s a great time for women in film and television, from Big Little Lies to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, but The Handmaid’s Tale seems to prey upon my worst fears for society. Due to this, I’m not watching the show with the same level of voyeuristic awe that Big Little Lies inspired. I’m more cautious. It’s almost like taking part in a self-defense training course: If ever faced with these circumstances, how would I handle them?
You can watch The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. The first three episodes are available today, and the final seven will be released on a weekly basis. If you’re interested in the original story, pick up a copy of the novel. I read it over Spring Break, and couldn’t put it down. Also, I am blown away by Elisabeth Moss and Alexis Bledel.