Tv, feminism, politics, hulu, sexism, dystopia

The Handmaid's Tale (2017 Miniseries)

MAJOR TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING. THERE'S RAPE, IMPLIED RAPE, GRUESOME DEATHS AND SEVERE HOMOPHOBIA IN THIS SHOW. IT IS DISTURBING AND VERY FEW PUNCHES ARE PULLED.

Seriously everyone, heed that warning. This show is not pleasant and quite violent overall.

The Handmaid's Tale is a book written by Margaret Atwood about an overtly-religious, deeply sexist dystopic world where women are subservient to men, treated only as walking wombs to help increase the population. Any sort of dissent is stamped out, and being LGBTQ, a doctor, or a priest from the wrong faith is illegal (punishable by death).

Hulu has taken this amazing novel and turned it into a miniseries. The first three episodes were released yesterday and the rest are going to be released over the next few weeks.

I've always really appreciated the original novel. You can't like it because the content is too dark for that, but it is a powerful book with incredible political allegory. The Hulu show has taken that concept and made it into a chilling show that combines elements of our own reality with the one in the novel.

And I think that's what makes it so powerful. The main character, Offred, in the novel, doesn't recall much of her past. In this series, however, we see how the world ends. Offred (or rather, June) was a person just like us, living in a world with terrorist threats, religious fundamentalism, and debates about birth control.

If her world became an extreme theocracy, there's nothing to say ours couldn't.

Through flashbacks, we see how June used to live - how she used to go running with her friends, how she used to go to protests, how she used to use Tinder and buy couches off Craiglist. Her world was our world, and now, it is not.

I don't want to spoil too much for you (and the rest of the episodes haven't come out yet so I can't), but Offred only exists as a womb. She exists just to pump out children (conceived by rape by her 'Commander') as the birth rate has fallen dramatically. This overtly-religious world worships birth and pregnancy, and for Offred (and other women like her), their life is one of sex and servitude. They have no say in the matter.

Offred, obviously, doesn't like that, and the series explores her life as a servant woman as she tries to gain autonomy over her own body and free herself from the totalitarian state that the USA has become.

In a world where political tensions have heightened to such a dramatic point; where the rights of women are still being questioned; and where groups of unqualified people legislate over those they do not understand, it is important to use this show to help examine ourselves. Offred's world could be our world if we don't realise what we're doing wrong.

And that is the scariest thing about The Handmaid's Tale. This world is powerful, brutal and will send a shiver down your spine, but it's still not completely unimaginable.

Emma Maguire