I am a lover of historical drama series, but I have never fancied watching something futuristic. Let alone something dystopian. Well, that was until a few weeks ago, when my girlfriend mentioned a TV series I needed to watch. I’m forever grateful because The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most interesting and fascinating series, I’ve watched in a while and I will tell you exactly why.
First of all it’s good to know that this is a tv adaption of the 1985 novel The Handmaide’s Tale written by Margaret Atwood. It’s a dystopian novel which didn’t catch my immediate attention and I’ve haven’t read the novel. So this review is all from the point of view of someone, who has only seen the TV series. It is set in the former United States of America after a civil war created chaos and a totalitarian christian regime has taken over the country/nation. I had experienced similar views about the former United States of America in the film adaption of V for Vendetta and the similarities were quite striking.
Imagine a world where the worth of women has completely vanished and that the common woman who is fertile, is to be used as a baby making machine for the greater good of the country. Imagine that you have no free will and that you have to obey every command that is given to you. Imagine that because you are a man, you are privileged, solely because of the fact that you have a different gender. Imagine a totalitarian world where the worth of genders is so important, that it will dictate every sense of your life.
The idea of using a totalitarian regime or ideology in series, usually doesn’t get my support because I think it’s used wrong. The term totalitarian is invented in 1952 by Talmon and it’s almost always used to describe something in the past which is anachronistic. So to see the concept of a totalitarian christian regime in dystopian future, was very interesting to seen and refreshing as well. This is because of several reasons.
The first reason is that I think it works and the terminology is properly used and executed in this show. Secondly, I think it can be perceived as a warning to the United States, because of how they have lead their country in the last few years. But it also serves as a warning to all other countries in this world in my opinion, which gives you a sense of reflection in my opinion. And what I think is one of the most interesting things, is that in this dystopian future we don’t seem to develop in the way we do know. What I mean by this is that we always think we are moving forward, emancipating and creating a more equal world for all. We are striving for a future where religion is still very present in our lives, but doesn’t dictate the way we live or are supposed to live. So to see that in this particular dystopian future, the christian values are taking over again, with the Bible being of great significance to the society, is rather mindblowing.
What I also like about The Handmaide’s Tale and their portrayal of totalitarism, is that they have tried to show the theoretical life and the reality of it. It’s not perfect, it’s far from perfect to be honest. The idea of a totalitarian regime is that the people are controlled by their government. The control not only the actions of the people, but they also control their mind. As if you have no own free will, but in reality this is far from the truth and I think it’s brilliant that they did depict that in this show.
Just like totalitarianism, feminism plays a huge part in this show. The rights of women have been completely annihilated due to the new regime and even the privileged women only have a certain role/purpose in life. The world and it’s actions are controlled by the men, at least that’s how they want it to be and women are consider lesser beings. Feminism is very difficult thing to portray and what I think is brilliant about this series, is that they focus the feminism on women. Now this may sound odd, but it’s about self empowerment and standing up for yourself, rather than focussing on the hatred of men they have. I think that sends a powerful message, because I’ve seen a lot of stuff saying that men are the enemy and feminism should focus on the hatred of men.
What I also like about the way they talk about feminism, is that they don’t focus on a certain group of women. They let you feminism in different ways and different layers of society and I think this is so, so brilliant. Feminism is about equality for everyone and in this show, they focus on women in particular. But all women and all roles, and that’s a very important message to spread in my opinion.
What I rather like about it, is that there’s plenty of room for dialogue. In contemporary series, I often like the power of dialogue is ignored and people tend to focus on big bombastic scenes of blood and fire. That is why I like the serie this much, because they don’t focus on that. They focus on the importance of the dialogue and I really like that. Mind you, at the end of the first season things move rapidly and I can’t escape the feeling that the makers are doing exactly that which mainstream series/films tend to do nowadays. But I’ll have to wait and see how the show develops in the second season to confirm my feelings or contradict them.
The voice over is of vital importante to the show. By narrating the scenes where you only see a lot, but don’t hear people talking. It gives a chilling vibe, which accurately joins in the seriousness of the show. What I didn’t rate were the amounts of flashbacks. I understand that to tell the story, you need those flashbacks in the beginning but they need to gradually move away. Instead, this show continues to show many flashbacks which confused me a bit. This was because of the fact that you develop different feelings with the flashback-storyline and the actual storyline.
The acting is very good and this is not because they have A+ actors or anything, but because they have been properly casted. What I also like about several actresses is that they don’t have that typical hollywood face or body, which makes identification with the cast and in extent with the story told, a whole lot easier. I especially like the way the protagonist Elisabeth Moss plays her role of June/Offred and how Yvonne Strahovski plays Mrs. Waterford. They are both such powerful actresses who completely make the show for me. I was really impressed by their performances and especially the performance of Strahovski, because I saw her in Dexter and at that time I wasn’t impressed at all.
What I really didn’t like was to see the Joseph Fiennes, the less talented brother of Ralph. He has no soul in his acting and doesn’t contribute what so ever to the show. His luck is that his character didn’t need much personality to begin with, but I would love to see a different actor in his role. Despite being him in this show, I think the acting is outstanding though.
I think this is one of the best shows I’ve seen and I think the way they portray feminism and ideology definitely makes this show worth to watch. I think the acting is outstanding and the especially the actresses are doing a fantastic job. I’ve seen a few great things and I hope they develop to be like that, however I hope they continue the style of the show. In the end everything seemed a bit rapid and I hope it won’t continue like that, because that would be a shame.
To give you a better visual insight into the show, here’s the trailer:
Have you seen it? What do you think? Let me know!