09th Mar2018

‘The Handmaid’s Tale: The Complete First Season’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf


There are some television series that come at just the right time to tap into events going on in society. The Handmaid’s Tale has come at a time when politics is becoming polarised, where you are either “with” or “against” a certain political stance. Could what happens in The Handmaid’s Tale happen in our society? Probably not, but it still feels very real and believable.

The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in the dystopian future of Gilead, a totalitarian society in the former United States. Due to environmental disasters and a plunging birth-rates, Gilead returns to a society of “traditional values” which includes fertile women who have to live in servitude to the “Commanders” and their wives to provide children. One of these fertile women is Offred (Elisabeth Moss) a woman who refuses to give up hope.

If we lived in a perfect world there would be equality for everybody no matter your sex, nationality, colour, age, or any other defining factor. The fact is though we don’t, and though many strive for a rebalancing in society, it often feels like the shouts for change are ignored. This is especially the case in recent years.

What The Handmaid’s Tale shows is an extreme version of what could be, and it hits home hard because of the way modern society follows the same traits. Religion can be used to do great evil, and becomes an excuse to do many things in the name of a “God” that that just don’t fit into what is morally right. Again, there is a growth in modern society to push the word of “God” at people, and bring it back into politics. The parallels again are scary, but again, The Handmaid’s Tale gives hope.

The way it does this though is to show the darkest that society can become. The so-called Handmaidens are the only fertile women left in Gilead, and in essence are cattle. We are shown through Offred’s eyes how society changed to view these women like this, and how they conditioned them to be if anything just a womb for the infertile wives of the Captains (the men). This is emphasised by the way the Handmaiden has to lay between the legs of the wife as the Captain attempts to impregnate her.

This type of society that pushes women into what is nothing but slave labour is not a system that will work. One of the main flaws of course is as the only fertile women, they hold the key to the future of Gilead. They should have the true power in society, and in a way, this is where Offred comes in. She realises what power she has over the Captain she has been provided to, Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), and his wife Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) and uses it. The key of course is when the Handmaids all join together, they also become a force of will, especially as Gilead cannot survive without them.

The Handmaid’s Tale may come across as too dark for some, but it is thought-provoking. Through the story, you see how powerless the Captain really is, and how false the society is. His wife acts out her violence on Offred because she herself has no power in society, even though she appears to beg to her “God” for just this power. Her cruelness comes from the fact that she pushed for the society they now live in, and it chewed her up and spat her out. She can’t have the one thing she wants, and Offred is the one to give it, so what place does she have in her own home?

Offred is the symbol of hope when all seems to be lost. She gives strength to those that have given up, and she refuses to give up herself. If anything, she provides a battle cry that not only stays on the screen, but also speaks to the audience. That no matter how bad things can be, society will find a way to right itself.

For those looking for a reason to hate The Handmaid’s Tale there is plenty there for them to, but that is based on prejudice. What The Handmaid’s Tale actually is, is brilliant television that comes at just the right time to get its hooks into those who worry about society today. We may not be heading to the future of The Handmaid’s Tale, but just like a good horror film does, this show pokes at our fears, makes us feel uncomfortable and then tells us “hey, it’ll be okay, just don’t give up hope.”

***** 5/5

The Handmaid’s Tale is available on DVD in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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