The Handmaid's Tale (2017– )
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It is pretty easy to understand why.
As the 20th century began, human evolution was at a turning point. Science fiction of the day predicted a future that was more enlightened, civilized and more intelligent. But as time went on, things seemed to be heading in the opposite direction. A dumbing down of society began to occur. How did this happen? Natural selection, the process by which the strongest, the smartest, the fastest, reproduced in greater numbers than the rest and in which the weakest or not-so-intelligent were culled, a process which had once favored the noblest traits of man, now began to favor different traits. Evolution began not to reward intelligence, but to coddle and save the weakest. With no natural predators to thin the herd, it began to simply reward those who reproduced the most, and left "Intelligent Man and Woman" to become an endangered species. One need not look far within these comments to see that in effect. It's not that hate which is shown in some of these reviews that is killing the world. I think that up to a certain point all of us possess some level of hate. It is not having the mental acuity or aptitude to recognize it within ourselves, and to not let ourselves be led by it. Some of these so-called reviews are downright scary when you stop to think that is the actual mentality of the person who wrote them. One guy decrying interracial couples and gays to the point of not watching a television program that has them. A woman who says this could not happen and in the next paragraph goes on to detail how it could happen, only not as Christianity. Who cares what it is called, if you admit it could happen?
As for this series itself, it is relevant. For now. In this time. More than ever.
Beyond that, it is beautifully filmed and acted.
Do not fall for the negative reviews of those fanatics and zealots who are purposefully trying to bring down the ratings and who are so lost they cannot even practice the very laws of a god they are trying to defend.
This series is a masterpiece.
So if you think this is a warning tale for the future, it has already occurred. Google Baby Scoop Era. The best kept secret on the wholesale use of women as breeders.
The Handmaid's Tale is a series that presents what could happen were women's rights reverted or taken away. There is nothing in my previous sentence that is not true. Let me type it again. The Handmaid's Tale is a series that presents what could happen were women's rights reverted or taken away. Is it an extreme depiction? Let's study that for a moment. In a Puritanical society, the Bible was the sole authority. Puritans believed it applied to every area and level of life. The Salem Witch Trials are one such example of Puritanical beliefs in action. Were it not for historical documentation, you would have people negating those as well. So, as to the question of whether it could or couldn't happen, the people most decrying it and stating that it could not happen, are the ones that most believe it can. Don't let them fool you.
The Handmaid's Tale takes you into this dystopian future, and it has never felt more real. I had to pause it on a couple of occasions to catch my breath. No, it doesn't hit you over the head every so often with good scenes; the beauty of it is that it is equally haunting, strong and breathtaking in its entirety.
To grab from another review: "The echoes of resemblance to the United States' current political administration create another layer of exceptionalism. Make no mistake, this is a political work. But it makes its case in a way that, like George Orwell's 1984 reflect our world back at us in a mirror that is both familiar and perverse", and because of it, it is extraordinary.
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★★ Excellent
BUT - as dystopian worlds go, enough is enough. In season two, when June gets away and has the baby and then has to go BACK? I felt like I had enough. I know the book ends dysmally and I absolutely hated the ending. I was encouraged to read that the director of this show feels the same way. But my god! Enough is enough. It's become a string of episodes depicting misery - even shot on dark sets. It is depressing, dismal, and feels utterly hopeless. I think it's dragging out too much and would love to see it end in season two.
As iMDB got rid of the discussion boards (NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!), I can't discuss this with anyone. I would love to say these things and read the opinions of others. I loved that. There are always those rude people who would tell me to grow up or to stick with "unicorns and rainbows." But many more will engage in meaningful discussion and I miss that SO MUCH. I learned tons of things from people who disagreed with my opinion on iMDB. Okay - enough whining.
Everyone is in their own place in life. I have a career that immerses me in the pain of others. I see much of suffering and have to diagnose and explain absolutely terrible illnesses. So yeah, unicorns and rainbows are nice for me. I do not need "realistic" dystopia for my entertainment. I do enjoy dystopic stories - loved The Hunger Games - but they had HOPE. This thing is just a looooong experience of being stuck in deep, dark, depressing mire.
I'm weary of it. Knocked my original rating from 10 to 4. Wrap it up already, guys. Or give us more bits of HOPE.
The Handmaid's Tale is perhaps one of the the best Television accomplishments of not only the year (hands down), but of the decade. It is a profound glimpse into a future that could very well happen were it not for people like most of you and me.
In three unforgettable episodes, so far, women such as Offred ("Of FRED", since she belongs to Fred), played by the inimitable Elisabeth Moss, are coerced through bodily harm to be both concubine and scape/punching goat for well to do families. These women are subjected to physical, emotional and mental abuse in the name of God, or if not so much in the name of God, under the twisted word of god, by man. This is not to say that it is a Christian-bashing show, but it depicts what could happen under a theocratic society.
What is most outstanding is that the acting is so amazing, that its quietest moments may be its most powerful. In fact, at times, the series can be emotionally overwhelming and draining — but isn't that a characteristic of a superb and masterful viewing experience?
Don't turn away from it.
If you're a fan of the book, the only way to watch this show is on fast forward. A better title for this series would have been "The Handmaid's Snail."
I don't think I'm saying anything groundbreaking here, but if you are a writer creating a brand new fantasy or sci-fi universe, it's the little details that matter. If you leave them out, your world will appear lifeless and the reader or viewer won't feel that it's real, breaking the immersion. We see very little of this world to begin with and what we do see doesn't really make any sense, making it a huge nonsense, even if you're trying to symphatize with the story and the protagonist.
It also doesn't help if you're trying to inflate a short novel into several seasons without any interesting ideas. It's so slow that you can practically do your chores while watching it, I guarantee you're not going to miss anything even if you take a peek at the screen once every 5 minutes. I could only get through 4 episodes and eventually started working instead, that makes a lot more sense than wasting my time on a story that goes nowhere.
My third big problem with the show is the main actress (coincidentally also one of the producers), who doesn't really fit this role and is genuinely unlikeable. I don't really get her characters' motivations either, her actions seem to be all over the place and it's extremely confusing. Of course, this could all be on purpose, but shouldn't there be at least one person in the story you can identify with or root for?
Mankind is failing, most women are sterile because of industrial pollution (or Mother Nature just having enough of us parasites). Birth rates are plummeting. An ultra religious cult see it as their God given mission to 'save mankind'. They seize power by staging a fake terrorist attack against the US government, impose marshal law and set about rebuilding American society.('War On Terror' anyone?) They use The Old Testament as their blue print, but with some totally wack interpretations and distortions. Fertile women become the property of the state. Brain washed and farmed out to the new ruling elite as baby makers, slavery and subjugation is all they can hope for.
Margaret Atwood, Canadian hero, social commentator, environmentalist, activist, feminist, tech inventor, business woman and visionary always maintained that this isn't sci-fi, but 'speculative fiction', things that have a chance of happening in the near future. Written in the '80's it's probably more profound now; the Neo Con Christian's have become a powerful force in US politics. Could there be a Tea Party without the ultra religious Republicans? Probably not. Maybe it takes a next door neighbour from Canada to really see what's happening with the totally dysfunctional family next door? It has always been a source of debate about how a country so entrenched in the ideas of freedom and liberal philosophy can also be the home of such obvious bigotry and divide? Surely teaching Creationism instead of proved science in some State's schools is a warning sign? Maggie may well ridicule this dogmatic un-thinking, however it's far from funny when she points out the possible end game and consequences for society and women in particular.
The book, although heavy going at first, is one of those you can pick up every few years and just dive right in (thanks to Una for making me read it back in '87). I was worried that this TV adaption wouldn't do it justice. How wrong I was. It's slightly different, and relies on a lot of flashbacks like the original narration; however this narration helps to smooth over the cracks nicely. So it still sticks faithfully to the principles and main events of the story, albeit in a roundabout 'more up to date' way. The subtle creep up and takeover of government and power has been well handled so far. I am enthralled, totally impressed and on tenterhooks with Bruce Miller's adaption. The direction is also smart, (the hanging scene seen from the back of a van was powerful stuff). Every image is a perfect composition, nothing is wasted, it's real art in the hands of skilled camera operators.
The feminism is subtle, not the clumsy and overt 'all men are bad, all women are good little victims' like of some of the more hardcore feminist literature. Maggie recognises that some women can be bad too, and some men will die to do the right thing, as you will see. Her book made a point that this could only happen if most women were willing parties too, and that a 2,000 year old book of moral tales can hold a massive amount of power when deliberately abused in the wrong hands.
It's also highly commendable that the cast are just 'normal folk', no super skinnies, models, hunks or pretty boys are in sight. This makes it all the more believable, it could happen to you and me. The lead, 'Offred' (Elizabeth Moss) absolutely nails it. No spoilers, but she will impress you with her canny nouse and determination to survive despite many obstacles and traps. I haven't seen one bad actor in here so far, they've obviously got bags of talent and emotional range. The design and resurrection of 'The Shaker Movement', as in the book, harks back to an American and European age of persecution and religious fervor.
Adhering to Maggie's descriptions of the colour coded dress, the production designer's subtle placement of now highly valuable Shaker furniture here and there helps; the muted drab colours, even in the opulent wealthy homes, take us sub consciously back to the times of Salem, witch trials, mass hysteria and life devoid of 'modern vices' like free speech, self determination, free love and modern relationships.
I can't wait to see how this progress', although I know how it ends (can't tell you, but get ready for some shocks!). It's been made fresh for me. I hope you will all love it too.
This show just goes around in circles. Something happens and I'm thinking, yes, finally the story will move forward, but then it just goes back to where it was before and I'm left indifferent.
Why didn't June go to Canada when she had the chance? Organizing a rescue mission from Canada feels like a greater chance then to go back to where she was before. She had already tried to escape with her daugther before and that didn't work. I hoped she had a plan going back but she was just lucky she wasn't killed right away.
I don't even know why I put myself through season 3. I'm two episodes in and already I'm bored again.
I give it a 5 star just because of the acting.
It is so sad that a potentially good storyline gets overshadowed by screenwriters' lack of imagination and the fact that the series has to be profitable.
Visually, the production is definitely good! So if you have a lot of time to waste... go for some episodes.
I don't really know why I watched it. Perhaps I hoped that the dimension missing from the film was going to be furnished but it wasn't.
Without spoiling this is the story about this new world where women who are still able to bear children after the most of society is rendered infertile are made to be handmaidens/slaves to wealthy women who want to have babies but can't. Despite their unique baby making abilities they are still treated like the lowest life form on earth and the only reason they even get to live is because of this ability.
Elizabeth Moss and Alexis Bledel are amazing in their performances along with the rest of the cast. They broadcast the first 3 episodes on Hulu last night and of course I had to binge watch. It made me cry and made me incredibly sad to see how cruel a species humans can be.