‘Handmaid’s Tale’ makes for terrifying television


Elisabeth Moss and Ann Dowd in The Handmaid’s Tale (2017). Photo contributed by George Kraychyk

Elisabeth Moss and Ann Dowd in The Handmaid’s Tale (2017). Photo contributed by George Kraychyk

In a time that’s been referred to as the “golden age of television,” it can be hard to decide which of the myriad of shows are worth the time. One show that critics and audiences alike have come to love is Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Based on the best-selling dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, this chilling drama instills fear in audiences everywhere.

Set in the near future where a Puritan-like sect has overthrown the government, “The Handmaid’s Tale” follows Offred, a handmaid in the home of a high-powered commander. Trapped in a caste of sexual servitude, the handmaids are used in a last resort attempt to repopulate this new world. Offred struggles to keep hope alive and fight for the life she once took for granted.

This show is both completely addicting and terrifying to watch. Women’s rights have been stripped away, religious freedom has been abolished and a totalitarian government is in control in the post-American world of Gilead. The writers adhere closely to their source material, and with Atwood’s guidance, flesh out some of the ancillary characters. Even if you’ve read the novel, this show will knock you off your feet.

The actors (mainly actresses) are superb. Elisabeth Moss carries the show as the intelligent and relatable Offred. The juxtaposition between her pre-Gilead life and her life as a handmaid is made all the more terrifying by her complete change in demeanor. The terrific use of her voice as a tool in both narration and dialogue warrant every award given to her.

Alexis Bledel, most notably known for her roles in the hit TV show “Gilmore Girls” and the film “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” returns to the small screen as handmaid Ofglen. She proves that she still has the acting chops in one episode in particular, when only her eyes are exposed, yet her wordless performance is staggering, to say the least. Lastly, Ann Dowd does a scarily good job playing Aunt Lydia, part of the caste of women assigned to train the handmaids. She manages to show a tender side underneath her brainwashed exterior that makes her character complicated, but no less evil.

Not only is this show extremely relevant, it’s also beautifully produced. The camera angles are used to create fantastic shots and the bright colors of the citizens’ uniforms create stunning scenes of symbolism. The pacing is perfectly written to allow the show to breathe. Different characters take the spotlight in each episode, but the story undulates between horror and hope, spiraling into a nightmarish finale.

Atwood has mentioned that everything in her novel is taken from a real-world example. This fact is made even scarier on the big screen. A women’s march is held, which is eerily similar to last year’s March on Washington, surrogates are used in a developed country with declining fertility and religion is used as a means of subjugating a nation.

If you’re up for the challenge and aren’t afraid of the horrific scenes this show has in store, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a must-see. This award-winning piece of television will resonate with you long after the credits have stopped rolling.

Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale” premieres April 25 on Hulu.