Hulu is set to premiere their adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale on April 26. Fans of the book are eagerly awaiting this date, but, for the media, early release reviews are already in. So, what do they think of the latest version of The Handmaid’s Tale?
Even before The Handmaid’s Tale was given advance screenings, people were already making comparisons to the current day situation with the Trump administration. As the early reviews come in, the resemblance is being more deftly discussed.
Here’s the official synopsis for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
“The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalism in its militarized ‘return to traditional values.’ As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, one of the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate the world. In this terrifying society, Offred must navigate between Commanders, their cruel Wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids – where anyone could be a spy for Gilead – all with one goal: to survive and find the daughter that was taken from her.”
Variety describes Margaret Atwood’s original text as an “upsetting, immersive, and horrifyingly beautiful vision of a too-close dystopian world.” Their review of Hulu’s adaptation echoes this sentiment. In the eternal battle between the subcategories of women in the republic of Gilead (which, in the Hulu series is situated in present day Boston), The Handmaid’s Tale reminds the women of today that are watching, that this is a possible future if we are not ever vigilant. Variety considers the Hulu adaptation as a “sobering reminder to hold ourselves accountable for the state of the world, when and if we can.”
The New York Times goes one step further and warns women that Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a cautionary tale about what will ultimately happen under the umbrella of a “war on women.”
Slate, while definitely comparing The Handmaid’s Tale to the current political climate in the U.S., draws the attention to the differences between Atwood’s classic and the current leadership in the U.S. They ask the following question of the audience.
“The Handmaid’s Tale‘s imprecision allows the imagination to run paranoid. How will the gaping pit of contempt for women that the recent election revealed continue to play out?”
In Margaret Atwood’s book, part of the genius is the narrative by the main character, Offred (played by Elisabeth Moss in Hulu’s adaptation). As in the book, Atwood’s “acerbic, menacing first-person prose” is “effectively and efficiently trimmed for the series,” according to Slate.
New Republic‘s reviewer, Sarah Jones, compares her own upbringing in a religiously confining environment to clarify just why The Handmaid’s Tale needs to be watched in light of the current political environment. She also reminds conservative women that they need to be careful of what they wish for, using the character of Serena Joy (played by Yvonne Strahovski in the Hulu adaptation) as an example. This religiously pious woman used the agenda of female oppression to her own advantage. Traveling the country, she told women everywhere that they belonged in the home and in a position below the stature of men. In Atwood’s novel, Offred comments on how unhappy Serena Joy is now that she has been made to practice what she originally preached. In Hulu’s adaptation, this is also brought into the open to be analyzed by viewers.
When developing The Handmaid’s Tale, showrunner Bruce Miller was ever mindful of the fact he was a man developing what is, essentially, a woman’s tale.
“I was incredibly, and am still incredibly mindful, of the fact that I’m a boy,” Mr. Miller told the New York Times. “You always try to find people who support your deficits.”
Ever mindful, he sent the first two episode scripts to Margaret Atwood for her approval and hired mostly women to write the scripts and made sure women were chosen, where possible, to direct each episode.
Speaking of Margaret Atwood, when does her cameo appear in Hulu’s The Handmaiden’s Tale?
According to New Republic, Atwood appears in The Handmaid’s Tale as an Aunt who “slaps the side of Offred’s head during her re-education.” As New Republic points out, it seems like Atwood is reminding the new viewing audience that they now need to wake up and pay attention.
The trailer for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale is below.
Are you looking forward to Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale? Let us know by commenting below.
The Handmaid’s Tale will air exclusively on Hulu from April 26. Viewers outside of the U.S. will need to tune into their local providers to find out if The Handmaid’s Tale will be screened locally.
[Featured Image by Hulu]