REVIEW: A HANDMAID’S TALE
Based on the book of the same name by Margaret Atwood.
Actors Yvonne Strahovski, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, and Elisabeth Moss, and Executive Producer Warren Littlefield accept the award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Drama’ for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ onstage at the 33rd Annual Television Critics Association Awards during the 2017 Summer TCA Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 5, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.
So in breaking with true bookworm tradition, I watched a series/ movie before reading the book it was based on.
“Forgive me book gods, for I have sinned and will gladly carry out the required penance of finding the book and reading it post-haste.”
Now that my sins are almost washed white as snow, let’s dig into my amateur review of The Handmaid’s Tale.
At first glance, I loved the show’s photography and camera work, but as I kept on watching, I loved the narration that Elisabeth Ross’ character Offred/June delivered. It’s set in the dystopian United States, now referred to as Gilead; with Canada as the beacon of hope, Promised Land. Every member of society falls into a neat little box and the “owners” throw away the keys to those boxes ensuring their occupants are forever trapped. Or so we are led to believe. As the show unfolds, we get to see various elements struggling to break free, Moira escapes The Handmaid fate but is beaten down into the Jezebel role at a state-sanctioned brothel that caters to the Lord Commanders and their peers.
The story is narrated by Offred, a handmaid, who lives to serve a Lord Commander, Fred Waterford, and his wife, Serena Joy. Sexually transmitted diseases (GO FIGURE) and environmental pollution have rendered most of the population infertile and the few fertile women left are jealously guarded and have the singular misfortune of becoming the baby factories of Gilead. Forget the fact that the question of infertility must never be addressed towards only one gender. This does bring in an intriguing interplay between the sexes and serves to enrich the show I think. We see Offred’s relationship with the Lord Commander, his wife and their chauffeur, Nick Blaine, develop as the season progresses. The names given to the handmaids erase their identities and they end up being treated like common chattel.
I loved how the relationships between women were explored; we see how we can be our own worst enemies as well as how banding together can serve us well in the face of insurmountable difficulties. We see the role women play in oppressing their fellow women (The Aunts, The Commanders’ Wives, The Marthas) as well as how they rise and help each other.
Gilead is a perfect example of the age-old maxim, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Many have argued that it may be the society’s leaders’ interpretation of the bible that led them astray but I strongly believe that this is a case of a minority getting their hands on power and thereby, developing an unhealthy greed for more. If you’ve watched the show or read the book, let me know your thoughts in the comments.