A country where women are not allowed to read, work, have bank accounts, or even dress as they wish. They are divided into 4 groups: 1) the wives, dressed in blue, 2) the Aunts, dressed in green, 3) Marthas, dressed in brown, and 4) the Handmaids, dress in red. These are the main social classes in the Republic of Gilead, formerly the USA, in a dystopian future, as described in The Handmaid’s Tale.
Based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale is possibly the scariest show on TV this year. It does not have zombis or monsters from another world, but the systematic oppression and tortured suffered by most of the citizens are far scarier.
The Republic of Gilead used to be the United States. It is now a theocratical society, ruled by men who use religion to justify all their acts. Also, due to some kind of virus, women are unable to get pregnant so those who do are enslaved as Handmaids. Of course there could be the option of men being the ones with reproductive difficulties, but this theory is rejected in this society, with the blame falling into the laps of women.
Handmaids, therefore, are assigned to a family and lose their birth names. They are now a property, so they are name after the patriarch. Offred, for example, is “Of Fred” and is played brilliantly by Elizabeth Moss. We follow her tragic story and witness her being raped monthly by the Commander (Joseph Fiennes), being mistreated by his wife (Yvonne Strahovski), and having all of her rights taken from her.
Handmaids are only allowed to walk in pairs on the streets and are forced to wear hats that look like cones, so that they can’t look directly at anyone. Offred’s partner is Ofglen (Alexis Bledel), a “gender-traitor” as they call homosexuals.
Each episode is more intense than the previous one, but they are so compelling and so well produced that it’s impossible not to keep watching. The situations lived by the characters are so cruel that one can’t help but feel a bit sick while watching it. The torture scenes, as well as every scene involving blood are very graphic, with the red standing out on the screen.
The cinematography by Colin Watkinson and the costumes by Ane Crabtree are fundamental in transmitting the sense of oppression and urgency to the audience. It is impossible to watch this show without feeling anything, especially outrage.
The entire cast is absolutely brilliant. Elizabeth Moss, more recently known for her role in Mad Men, is able to show her emotions so subtly as her character is trying to pretend to be fine to survive that one can’t help but empathize with her. Ann Dowd is perfect as the ruthless Aunt Lydia, and so are Yvonne Strahovski as the barren wife, trapped in that sad reality, and Alexis Bledel as Ofglen, who has one of the saddest stories.
The success was so big that it was already renewed for a second season, despite not having a second book to be based on. Margaret Atwood will help with the script of the new season.
Nominated for 11 Emmys in 2017, The Handmaid’s Tale is possibly the best show of the year and should be seen by everyone, especially with the current situation of the world where women’s rights are always questioned.