‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is an American dystopian drama web television series that airs on Hulu. The series first premiered on April 26, 2017. The show has been created for television by Bruce Miller and is based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, which came out in 1985. Daniel Wilson Productions, Inc., The Littlefield Company, White Oak Pictures, and MGM Television are the companies backing the project, while Margaret Atwood and Elisabeth Moss are the producers. Bruce Miller, Warren Littlefield, Reed Morano, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, and Ilene Chaiken are on board as the executive producers of the show.
The series focuses on a dystopian future which comes into being after the Second American Civil War, and we see women being reduced to servitude in a pure childbearing capacity. The totalitarian nature of the show, with the subversion of the protagonist setting a strong feminist theme, has made its mark among fans. The series has also gone down well with the critics, winning eight Primetime Emmy Awards in the first season itself. The series has received praise for its vivid and wild depiction of a totalitarian society, and for the possibility of drawing parallels to the oppression of women in today’s society. Although faithful to the book, as far as adaptations go, some of the later episodes of the show were critiqued for being too gratuitous and a bit too graphic in portraying the violence inflicted on women, to the extent of running the risk of being called ‘torture porn’.
The Handmaid’s Tale Cast: Who is in it?
The main cast of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ includes Elisabeth Moss, who is a person without whom the show cannot simply function. She plays the role of June Osborne or Offred, who is captured while attempting to flee to Canada, and sent to servitude. Joseph Fiennes plays the role of Commander Fred Waterford, Offred’s master. His wife, Serena Joy Waterford, is played by Yvonne Strahovski. Aunt Lydia is played by Ann Dowd, and the character is in charge of overseeing the duties and sexual reeducation of the Handmaids. The main cast is enriched by the presence of several recurring and guest characters, who not only serve to show how the oppression works in the tale but also serves to help Offred make up her mind about whether she is going to revolt in her own way against this exploitative hegemony.
In the upcoming season, we will definitely see Lydia return, though the previous season had hinted that she might be dead. Additionally, Christopher Meloni of ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit‘ will be joining the cast, along with Elizabeth Reaser of ‘The Haunting of Hill House‘ fame. They are guest stars playing the parts of Commander Winslow and his wife respectively. Since the Winslows are supposed to host the Waterford couple, to whom Offred belongs, one expects these characters will have some significant interactions with Moss’ character in the new season.
The Handmaid’s Tale Plot: What is it about?
The main plot of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ essentially centers around a woman who is forced to live the life of a childbearing agent, in a dystopian society ruled by a theocratic and fundamental dictatorship. The story is set in the near future when environmental pollution and sexually transmitted diseases have caused infertility in most women. Before society crumbles, a new order is established, and after a civil war, a governmental structure called Gilead comes to power. In this system, women are completely oppressed, and all their rights are taken away. Society and women are also placed hierarchized in a certain manner. The elite has access to Handmaids, that is, fertile women who will bear their babies. These women are made to wear red. Cooks wear green, while the wives are dressed in blue or turquoise. Female prisoners are treated as less than human beings and are called Unwomen. They are worked to death, made to clear out toxic waste. In such an oppressive regime, there is a secret police body that keeps an eye out for revolts and possible uprisings, because no one wants to be completely dominated. Nonetheless, this society, too, has an added power dynamic in the form of Jezebels, who are prostitutes that the elite often visits.