Now that Season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale is finally upon us, I thought I would blather on a bit about why I love this show so dang much.
When I first started seeing previews for The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu I was intrigued. At first glance I thought it was just another period drama which aren't usually my thing -- but as soon as I discovered that it was set in modern time I was hooked.
Of course, being the bibliophile that I am, I refuse to watch anything that's based on a book until I've read the book first. So I put The Handmaid's Tale on my to-watch list until I could get my hands on Margaret Atwood's masterpiece.
I finally got a chance to dig in on the novel while on vacation in February. It was a quick read, only taking me a day and a half to finish, but I enjoyed every second of it. There is something about the juxtaposition of the archaic and confining "ideals" being set in a post-modern society. It tripped me out, to be honest.
Although Atwood's work was a really intense and fascinating read as a whole and complete story, one reason I was so excited to begin the Hulu show was to see how much they would be able to expand the story past what was in the book -- and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
The scariest part of The Handmaid's Tale to me is how very tangible and possible the changes brought forth by the new nation Gilead, really are. As a society based on "biblical" and "moral" values (ie misogyny and tyranny) the propaganda used was eerily easy to swallow and not at all unfamiliar.
In the introduction to the novel (added by the author in the 2015 edition) Atwood explains how when writing the book in the 80s she didn't want to push the idea of a new society so far as to become science fiction. Every tool, idea, practice, and horror used in the book was pulled from history. Handmaids. Hangings. Mutilation. Prejudice in all it's forms.
The true terror of The Handmaid's Tale is the mirror it holds up: a vision of humanity's most vicious truths. It has all been done before.
Throughout the novel reader's learn about this new society, get to know the central character June (now Offred) and begin to understand the painful reality of Gilead through her trauma. But there was no resolve. The story was what it was and then it was over. June's life was what it was and then the book concluded. There were no answers.
This is what is so fantastic about the Hulu original series -- we get to see how the rest of the story might have played out. The secondary characters become more full, tell their own stories, and brand new ideas are brought into the fold. There are so many new paths to travel now thanks to the show.
What will happen now that Moira has escaped and has rejoined Luke? How will June navigate her relationship with Nick now that she knows her husband is alive? What kind of trouble will she get into with Mayday? How will her pregnancy play out?
These are exciting questions that we will now get to fully explore where before we could only speculate the way one does when a great book ends. Even the introduction of the Mexican trade deal raises intriguing questions about how this formation of a new nation might cause ripples across the globe.
It's also an excellent way to show just how much the character has changed as a person after everything she's gone through. Despite everything I know, it's still sometimes difficult for me to reconcile that the smiling, giggling, mother June and pale-faced, subservient Offred are one in the same.
Elisabeth Moss is perfection as June/Offred. Her ability to tell a story with the quirk of an eyebrow or the quiver of a lip is astounding. The internal dialogue we get from her character is clever and funny and I think greatly helps viewers remember that this is indeed a post-modern society. Nothing brings you back to the present like a well-timed "fuck" and Tinder reference -- even if she is wearing a bonnet.
The supporting cast is just as amazing -- especially my ladies. I was thrilled to see a couple of my favorites, Samira Wiley and Alexis Bledel. Although very different, they're a couple of badass babes that I'm excited to see on my screen in Season 2. Yvonne Starhovski as Serena Joy and Madeline Brewer as batshit crazy Janine (one of my favorite characters!) are also highlights of the female cast.
I'm pumped up for the next season of The Handmaid's Tale, not only for that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling of more story after your favorite book has ended, but also for all of the possibility it holds.
It's one thing to open your eyes to a vicious new world. It's another thing entirely to watch the revolt.
I'll be waiting for the entirety of the second season to conclude before I dive back into the world of Gilead... I just can't bear the idea not bingeing it all at once. From what I hear, it will be well worth the wait.
No Spoilers please!