Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is Way Too Damn Real
In a terrifying future, women are only valued for their wombs.
When Canadian author Margaret Atwood published “The Handmaid’s Tale” in 1985, she couldn’t have predicted how deeply prophetic her book would be for Americans living in 2017.
Now, Hulu has adapted the novel into a new TV show, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” starring Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes. The show debuts April 26, and the trailer just dropped released today:
In the dystopian novel, which is set in an unspecified future, the government has been overtaken by a theocratic military dictatorship. The revolutionaries, referred to as the “Sons of Jacob,” hasten to remove women’s rights, including the right to read.
In this totalitarian society (known as “the Republic of Gilead”) women are sorted into classes and valued only for their reproductive abilities. Those who have previously proven fertile are classified as “handmaids” and assigned to high ranking officials who are unable to bear children. They exist only as “two-legged wombs, that’s all: sacred vessels, ambulatory chalices.”
Their given names are stripped from them and the women are reduced to property, referred to only by the name of the man to whom they are assigned (the story’s protagonist, Offred, is literally called Of-Fred, “Fred” being her master.)
It doesn’t take much mental gymnastics to see this book for what it truly is: a cautionary tale. Under a theocratic totalitarian regime, God is the ultimate ruler and Atwood deftly positions fanaticized religious ideals as the ultimate destroyer of democratic civilization.
Women are not the only group to lose their autonomy in Gilead; Jews and Roman Catholics are similarly discriminated against, either exiled or forced to convert under threat of execution. In the book, African Americans are systematically rounded up and banished to the Midwestern part of the country. However, executive producer Bruce Miller says that the adaptation will focus on gender, not race, as evidenced by the fact that Samira Wiley from “Orange is the New Black” has been cast as Moira, one of the handmaids.
In our current climate, where Planned Parenthood is under constant threat of being defunded and women are resorting to dangerous, DIY methods of abortion, us women are simultaneously as empowered and as powerless as ever. Yes, we can work and vote and drive, but how much is any of that worth when our intrinsic value is still tied to an unseen umbilical cord?
Hulu will release “The Handmaid’s Tale” April 26.