I’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale, gripped.
In case you’ve missed it, or like me, hadn’t read Margaret Atwood’s book upon which it’s based, this is the story: we’re in a very near future in which environmental issues have led to infertility on a huge scale. Fertile women become a prized commodity.
A sect of men, framing their beliefs upon literal interpretations of biblical tracts that suit them, launch a coup in the US, overthrowing the government and establishing Gilead, a place where the previous well-to-do men are in charge, and fertile women become their chattels, there to help them reproduce. Their wives, on the face of it, are complicit.
It’s incredible TV, hooked and led by Elisabeth Moss, all internalised anguish and fury and subtle looks. It’s the best performance on TV since Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall. She should win ALL the awards.
One of the reasons it has real purchase is because it feels incredibly timely. At some points, it feels like a documentary. The use of justified power to slowly subjugate, the questionable policies of the rulers to maintain their position, to bully, to maim, to kill and make examples chimes with much that is happening across the globe.
Her inspiration was from 30 years ago. But it doesn’t feel like things have changed at all
Atwood said all the behaviour she described in her book was based on things regimes across the world had actually done. That was 30 years ago. And they don’t feel like they’ve changed at all.