THE HANDMAID’S TALE (2017) [HULU]
The Handmaid’s Tale is an American dystopian tragedy television series created by Bruce Miller, based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The series was ordered by the streaming service Hulu as a straight-to-series order of 10 episodes, for which production began in late 2016. The plot features a dystopia following a Second American Civil War wherein a totalitarian society subjects fertile women, called “Handmaids”, to child-bearing slavery.
The first three episodes of the series premiered on April 26, 2017; the subsequent seven episodes were released every Wednesday. In July 2019, the series was renewed for a fourth season, which is scheduled to premiere in 2021. In September 2019, it was announced that Hulu and MGM were developing a sequel series, to be based on Atwood’s 2019 novel The Testaments. In December 2020, ahead of the fourth season premiere, the series was renewed for a fifth season.
Season 1 Trailer
The Handmaid’s Tale (2017) [HULU] – Season 1 Poster
In a world where fertility rates have collapsed as a result of sexually transmitted diseases and environmental pollution, the totalitarian, theonomic government of Gilead establishes rule in the former United States in the aftermath of a civil war.
Society is organized by power-hungry leaders along with a new, militarized, hierarchical regime of fanaticism and newly created social classes, in which women are brutally subjugated. By law, women in Gilead are forced to work in very limited roles, including some as natal slaves, and they are not allowed to own property, handle money, or read.
Worldwide infertility has led to the enslavement of fertile women in Gilead determined by the new regime to be “fallen women”,
citing an extremist interpretation of the Biblical account of Bilhah; these women often include those who have entered multiple marriages (termed “adulteresses”), single or unmarried mothers, lesbians (homosexuals being termed “gender traitors”), non-Christians, adherents of Christian denominations other than the Sons of Jacob, political dissidents and academics. These women, called Handmaids, are assigned to the homes of the ruling elite, where they must submit to ritualized rape (referred to as “the ceremony”) by their male masters (“Commanders”) in the presence of their wives, in order to become impregnated and bear children for them. Handmaids are given names created by the addition of the prefix Of- to the first name of the man who has them. When they are transferred, their names are changed accordingly.
Along with the Handmaids, much of society is now grouped into classes that dictate their freedoms and duties. Women are divided into a small range of social categories, each one signified by a plain dress in a specific color. Handmaids wear long red dresses, heavy brown boots and white coifs, with a larger white coif (known as “wings”) to be worn outside, concealing them from public view and restricting their vision. Marthas (who are housekeepers and cooks, named after the biblical figure) wear long, loose-fitting muted green garments and cover their hair with headwraps. The Wives of Commanders (who are expected to run their households beautifully) wear elegant, tailored dresses in blue and various shades of teal, cut in styles evoking the 1950s. They wear high heels, their hair is carefully coiffed, and they wear gloves and hats when outdoors.
Econowives, the lower-class women who still have minimal agency, wear shades of gray (a departure from the book in which Econowives wear clothing striped with the aforementioned colors). Female prisoners are called Unwomen and, wearing rags, are worked to death clearing toxic waste in the Colonies.
Another class of women, Aunts, who wear brown, train, oversee and discipline the Handmaids as well as organize “particicutions” (public executions involving the coerced participation of Handmaids). They are the only class of women in Gilead permitted to read, albeit specifically to fulfill the administrative role of their caste. Jezebels, often former career professionals or academics unwilling or unable to accept any role in Gilead, are forced into prostitution in secret brothels catering to the elite ruling class as an alternative punishment to being executed or sent to the Colonies. They wear otherwise forbidden evening clothes, costumes, and lingerie from “before”.
Among the men of Gilead other than the Commanders, the Eyes are secret police watching over the general populace for signs of rebellion, Hunters track down people attempting to flee the country, Guardians are responsible for civilian policing and Economen are responsible for menial labor. Men, regardless of status or position, often wear black.
June Osborne, renamed Offred, is the Handmaid assigned to the home of the Gileadan Commander Fred Waterford and his wife Serena Joy. The Waterfords, key players in the formation and rise of Gilead, struggle with the realities of the society they helped create.
During “the time before”, June was married to Luke and had a daughter, Hannah. At the beginning of the story, while attempting to flee Gilead with her husband and daughter, June was captured and forced to become a Handmaid because of the adultery she and her husband committed. June’s daughter was taken and given to an upper-class family to raise, and her husband escaped into Canada. Much of the plot revolves around June’s desire to be reunited with her husband and daughter.
Predictive Programming is the concept whereby conspirators plan a false flag operation, they hide references to it in the popular media before the atrocity takes place; when the event occurs, the public has softened up, and therefore passively accepts it rather than offering resistance or opposition.