This article contains spoilers. This article mentions rape and suicide. It may be triggering to some.
This article contains spoilers.
This article mentions rape and suicide. It may be triggering to some.
It has been roughly a year since the debut of the “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the Hulu series adaptation of the New York Times Best Selling novel of the same name, and what a year it has been.
Eight Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for its lead actress (Elizabeth Moss) later, the show has cemented itself as a high-quality think piece that mixes both sickening occurrences and symbolism in order to provide critical commentary on a host of societal issues.
As for a brief overview, the series alludes to a hostile takeover by a Christian organization that had been gaining converts in the years before they overthrew the United States government. These men and their subservient wives established a totalitarian theocracy based upon a very harsh form of Christianity, wherein women are treated as lesser than their husbands and not much more than sexual objects.
The first season begins with main character June’s assimilation into the new state of Gilead, wherein she and other fertile women are forced to cooperate with changing their names to reflect the men who now own them, wearing modest red clothing to symbolize their “handmaid” status and devoting themselves to a form of Christianity reminiscent of the Puritan era in American history. The women soon learn that all women who are able to bear children, “handmaids,” serve as concubines to the men who run the government. To glorify the act, the state claims that the sole purpose of this system is so that the handmaids can deliver children to the ruling couples of Gilead, and when other world leaders come to visit, this is the part of the society they use to cover the horror underneath.
Throughout learning more about the theocratic state, viewers intermittently discover more about the life June left behind, particularly her mixed-race daughter and divorced husband- two labels the new government does not take kindly to. Before June was separated from her family, they had been trying to escape the takeover as they knew they would have been split up due to the aforementioned “atrocities.” Thus, through flashbacks, viewers see June grapple with the emotional trauma of institutionalized rape while watching other women either be killed or brutally punished for disobedience, or even deciding to commit suicide on their own.
The first season ends with June pregnant with a child that might not be her owner’s due to her affair with her owner’s driver. June also leads a group of handmaids to not stone to death a girl who fell in love with the baby she birthed and her owner, at Aunt Lydia’s command (a lady who is much like a cruel warden).
Season two begins with all of the handmaids suffering severe consequences for obeying Aunt Lydia and shows that Gilead does not tolerate rebellion on any scale. All of the women were led to gallows with ropes around their necks, brought to the brink of death for their collective defiance.
Even though the outcome of the gallows scene was very predictable as this was the first scene of the season and the protagonist could not be killed so quickly, it still provided incredibly powerful visuals. One thing to note about the show is that every actor and actress is superb at expressing their raw emotions to the point where the viewer feels as if they are standing on the gallows with them on the edge of execution.
And this is common throughout season one of the show. The acting is magnificent as the actors are able to go beyond stage acting and really tap into their emotions and move the audience.
Further, Hulu spared no expense with the budget towards the end of last season and for this season’s premiere. The settings are indicative of the creators’ attention to detail. There was not a costume or prop out of place while the overall editing of the piece aided in crafting a very fitting mood of strong but muted, melancholic clarity.
One critique for the show, however, would have to be its incredibly slow narrative. While the storyline is marvelous, the time in between incidents is very drawn out.
- Great acting
- Interesting symbolism
- Stunning visuals
- Slow storyline
Photo courtesy of Hulu