Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale upcoming show has become more of a symbol than a piece of fiction recently. The anticipated adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel, discusses a quite dark future for women.
The show made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, where the first episode was shown. Then, the actors and the team discussed how relevant the story of the show is to modern day society.
The show premieres on Hulu on April 26th.
The Handmaid’s Tale, or another dystopian future for women
The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel by Margaret Atwood published in 1984. The novel “speculated” of a dystopian future full of horrors and despair, where a group of women fights to take back the rights taken away from them.
In this dystopian future, a new nation called Gilead, which was once the United States, rises under the control of hyper-religious leaders who founded a patriarchal theocracy.The only problem seems to be that the country is facing a fertility crisis. So, under Gilead’s laws women who are biologically capable of reproducing are scarce commodities, aka “handmaids”.
These handmaids are traded in the nation’s elite, these households are composed of high-status wives, and the titular handmaids, who are forced one to bear children through ritualized sexual encounter with the household’s male “commander”, meaning rapes.
The story follows Offred a working woman who’s kidnapped and taken away from her daughter to live a surreal nightmare.
The show airs on April 26th with a two-hours episode. The cast includes Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Yvonne Strahovski and Joseph Fiennes.
The timely story ringing some bells
In a TV panorama flooded with dystopias full of zombies and epidemics, probably the last thing we need is yet another horrible future. But all dystopias are meant as a warning message to prevent us from what could happen if we continue on a determined path.
Nowadays, the Gilead dystopia seems even more possible than ever. So, it’s bound to draw viewers and encourage discussions.Last year, when it was first announced that the story would hit the screens, it ignited a growing anticipation over it. The anticipation is caused by certain parts of the story that resonate with the times we’re living.
In a world full of a misguided nostalgia over a faded past glory, religious intolerance and a threat to the rights we take for granted Gilead rings some bells.
The Handmaid’s Tale shows us precisely real-world tyranny and is quite scary because it makes clear that despite all the progress we make, the dystopia is always possible and just a few steps behind us.
In the light of recent events, the 10 episode show seems more real than ever, there’s the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Population Fund by the Trump Administration.
Just like in Gilead, there were no dramatic coups but voices that kept growing progressively louder and louder, calling for a return to simpler times until they stripped women of their rights.
From a “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again” sign at a protest to women protesting a restrictive abortion law in costume in Texas, The Handmaid’s Tale has become a symbol these days.
Quite a political and social jab
Being a story focused on a group of women in a patriarchal society, it portrays and exposes some pretty important issues.The story serves to protest women’s place in society with the raw portrayal of the stories lived by the characters. It also offers an insight on female agency, the control of female bodies by the government and female sexuality.
When Atwood wrote the novel in the 80s, these were issues being tackled by the government and so there was a huge discussion about it.Now we’re still discussing female issues such as fertility, wages gender gap, and even slut shaming. These are all portrayed in the show and the book.
The show is the perfect portrait of the suppression of women’s right over their bodies and the complete loss of their voices. In Gilead, they have no rights left and are just bearers of the breed.
The government gets to say what they do and how they act, as they have to wear a specific color depending on their role in society.In this society, slut-shaming is as its best, women are forced to wear a nun-like robe to prevent them from tempting men.
But however complex and scarily real the show’s portrayal of women’s issues is, it also portrays other issues.It shows us how the established order can disappear with a small group of voices raising over others and establishing new rules.
It also shows the suppression of LGBTQ rights, in Gilead gays, are considered sex-traitors and are hanged in public. Today we’re still fighting for equal rights for all, and in some countries being gay is punishable by death.
Despite showing an awful dystopia, The Handmaid’s Tale reminds us of the importance of having a voice and using it. Even when Offred is unable to speak her mind in her current situation, she tells her story hoping it will all be known someday.
Lucky for us, we’re still using our voices.