By JACOB TRASK
My roommate and I were completely engrossed in the television the night we returned from winter break in January. We were both tired from long flights and trips home, and we decided to watch The Handmaid’s Tale because of a positive review I had read online. Fifteen minutes into the pilot episode, we were already immersed in an incredibly intense, disturbing and thoroughly entertaining new series.
Hulu looks to be bringing out its best stuff to compete with Netflix and HBO, and The Handmaid’s Tale is its new crown jewel. The show won the Golden Globe for best television drama in January and is slowly finding its way into the limelight. It currently holds an 8.6/10 on IMDB and is receiving incredible reviews across the board.
The series is adapted from a novel of the same title by Margaret Atwood. It stars esteemed television actress Elisabeth Moss as Offred, a “handmaid” in a severely dystopian community in New England called Gilead, where fertile women are forced to bear children for the community and the maintenance of the human race. Due to a strange disease, fertility in women has seen a massive drop, and the leaders at Gilead have taken over the region and thrown it into a religious commune where women are forced to wear certain clothes and men have the entirety of power.
In the story, “handmaids” are hunted in the wilderness, captured, and brought back to Gilead. After they’ve had their children taken away and they’ve been “trained,” they are paired up with a family and forced to mate with the men whose wives are infertile. The handmaids are put through humiliating sex rituals and live under the watch of the constantly scrutinizing eyes of the wives whose husbands they’re forced to sleep with.
Offred is paired with a particularly cruel family which includes the horrendous wife Serena Joy, played by Yvonne Strahovski, and the mysterious Commander Fred, played by Joseph Fiennes. She’s surrounded by a cast of interesting supporting characters including the evil Aunts (who enforce the community’s rules) and the other handmaids trying to work through their suffering the confusion.
The concept alone makes for incredible tension throughout the series. Offred finds herself in some bafflingly horrible situations very quickly, and we see it unfold with her as the show begins. Each little aspect of this cruel new world is revealed to her as we go in the first few episodes, and it’s quickly evident how awful this situation actually is. There’s absolutely no one she can trust, and there’s no way for her to escape.
For the first few episodes, Offred seems completely alone, but she soon begins to find details among the cracks of Gilead. She eventually finds herself in multiple promising relationships and discovers possible loopholes for her escape. While navigating the decisions that will shape her and her (captured) daughter’s futures, Offered struggles to keep her mischief completely under wraps and questions who she can and can’t trust with her plan. The show boasts strong themes of gender inequality and ignorance among the human race. It’s an appropriate piece of commentary on the recent social occurrences and the state of our country.
If you’re not intrigued, look at the list of shows that The Handmaid’s Tale beat for its Golden Globe for best television drama: Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, This Is Us and The Crown. We truly are in the golden age of television, and these are some of the best shows of all time. The Handmaid’s Tale is being held in that regard by the most acclaimed critics and Hollywood, and you definitely should not let this show slip under your radar.
All 10 episodes of season two of The Handmaid’s Tale will be released on Hulu on April 25, almost one year since the first season was released. There’s just enough time to watch the first season before season two is released, but it will be waiting for you.
The Handmaid’s Tale season two will absolutely try to outdo season one and go for another Golden Globe. We could be seeing the birth of one of the generation’s best shows ever, so hop on while it’s just starting up.
Jacob Trask can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org