I just finished binge-watching The Handmaid’s Tale and I am in awe. This incredibly awesome show is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same title. The Handmaid’s Tale was the first Atwood-novel I read and loved (I actually read it twice); however, I could not get too comfortable with most of her other books based on dystopian worlds even though they are mysteriously compelling. I love how somewhat satisfying other dystopian movies like The Hunger Games and also I am Legend or The Matrix were.
Especially, looking at society today it makes sense to watch some of the most ominous parts that seem so perilously depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale. Sadly, it just doesn’t seem so dystopian to me after all anymore which makes these type of movies or series somewhat scary or frightening.
(“Trump’s pussy grabbing Presidency” somehow strangely comes to mind) It all seems like it is not based in a so-far-away future. And of course everyone wants to go to Canada in the end. Go figure.
I literally binge-watched ten episodes in two days and was horrified most of the time about the depiction of America under totalitarian rule (hm) in episode one, combined with a devastating mix of a lot of suffering and torn-apart families. Initially, the society in the US seems to be just normal, but then there is military everywhere patrolling the streets; women start to lose their jobs without further explanation and shortly after have no access to bank accounts anymore and are hunted while their kids are taken away from them. The main protagonist is June (Elizabeth Moss). She tries to flee a country that seems to suffer from a fertility crisis among other problems, together with her husband and daughter. Their destination is Canada but they won’t make it. The husband stays back at the car as military approaches and June plus daughter run into the woods to hide. They hear two/three gun shots and get caught shortly after. June’s daughter is taken away from her (made my mom-heart so sad) and she is taken to Gilead, which is a military operated nightmare prison under strict fundamentalist rule. (Scary how real everything seemed!) What happened to June’s husband and daughter? No spoilers!
June is now stripped of identity, given color-coordinated clothing by class (red for the handmaids), given a new name (Offred), and transformed into a slave-handmaid with just one value: to bear children. From now on her life is lived in this prison of obedience, prayers, institutionalized rape, abuse and lots of terror; however, it is all for the “greater puritanical good” as master and leader tell the handmaid’s constantly. In short, living in Gilead means: no democracy, men own women, the Bible is seen as a governing text that is sweetly manipulated and bent and public hanging and stoning is okay again.
I had a lot of mixed feelings watching The Handmaid’s Tale. My emotions and reactions went from sad, watery eyes, jaw dropping, nervous chocolate eating, tea drinking to nail biting and red wine. There is however a lot of criticism about this show. I don’t care much about these reviews and interpretations. All I see is that the book has been written in 1985 but it just rings very true today. Truer maybe this year, than last year which makes this show very real and neither too far-fetched nor too dystopian. The Handmaid’s Tale could almost be seen as a relevant, important warning that leaves a queasy feeling in the stomach. Most haunting for me was that it seems one cannot really escape this world. Even worse, it is all created by humans.
I sign off and clean my kitchen now. And do a pile of laundry. Where have I been for the last two days? But it was so worth it.