The first teaser is out for Hulu’s ten-part series of The Handmaid’s Tale, which features Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Joseph Fiennes, and Alexis Bledel.
It’s about a world in which the United States has been politically, religiously, and ethnically overthrown, transformed into an authoritarian society where women’s value is based entirely on their capacity to bear children. Marriages involving divorcees are annulled. Men must return to their first wives, and subsequent wives are deemed to be wanton, and must consequently serve as “handmaids” to infertile wives. The book narrates the story of one such handmaid.
Hard to believe that this book was written in the 1980s.
The wonderfully articulate and incisive Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale out of concern about the increasing influence of anti-abortion violence, and the growth of religious and political movements that subordinated the status of women. Some have labeled the book dystopian, but it is also considered to be speculative fiction, an imaginary story that may come to pass.
I first read the book in elementary school, after I was finished with Anne of Green Gables. It wasn’t a seamless transition to go from Anne prancing in the fields of Prince Edward Island, to “the Commander f*cks, with a regular two-four marching stroke, on and on like a tap dripping.” (I will never forget that line.) Nevertheless, the book became one of my favourites throughout high school, and I reread it more times that I care to admit.
In the past few months, I’ve frequently thought about the Handmaid’s Tale, and its cautionary warning, but also of what I might have overlooked in my then-teenage understanding.
It’s time to revisit it.