Handmaid's Tale Touches a Nerve

Some see a vision of our future in Hulu series, and others think that's malarkey
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2017 12:14 PM CDT

Hulu's new series The Handmaid's Tale, which premiered Wednesday, tells the story of a future United States, called Gilead, in which women are forced to give up their rights to work, own property, and control their bodies following the slow adoption of a totalitarian government. It's based on the 1985 dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, but co-star Samira Wiley tells CNN it's "scarily relevant right now," and she's not alone in voicing that sentiment. Some reactions to that idea and the series overall:

  • Atwood herself amplifies the point to the Los Angeles Times, saying that the cast woke up on the morning after Donald Trump's election "and thought, we're no longer making fiction—we're making a documentary."
  • Oh, come on, writes Heather Wilhelm at the National Review. She says she must have missed "the brutal rise of a women-enslaving dystopia" in modern America and accuses feminists of hypocrisy on that front. For all "their talk about women needing to 'control their own bodies,' feminists often act as if women are helpless and completely incapable of doing so on their own."
  • At Bloomberg, Megan McArdle also thinks the Trump comparisons are "nonsense." She reread the novel amid the hullabaloo and concludes that while there's "nothing wrong with enjoying implausibilities on a screen or page," there is "something very wrong with hysterically declaring that those things are reality."

  • But Anna Merlan at Jezebel argues The Handmaid's Tale is "horribly relevant" with "a feeling that it takes place in a moment just around a lurking corner from our own." She's disappointed that some cast members are disavowing the feminist label, and she sees a parallel between the show and star Elisabeth Moss' refusal to discuss her belief in Scientology, known for its "abuses against women."
  • Lili Loofbourow also writes about this shying away from the feminist label at the Week, with one theory being that the cast might be leery after Hillary Clinton's loss to be associated with "failure." She digs into the nuances of the label, but also makes a point to praise the show itself as "beautifully done and spectacularly acted."
  • Moss talks about the politics of the show in an interview with Vox. "I wish it wasn't so relevant, but you can't be in the world today and awake as a woman and not be aware of your rights being infringed upon."
  • Eric Deggans at NPR is among those worried about modern parallels. "In a country where sexual harassment scandals regularly land on the front page, the patriarchy of The Handmaid's Tale doesn't feel so far-fetched," he writes. He sums up the series as "a cautionary tale on how quickly liberties can vanish."
  • At the Guardian, Jessica Valenti says the show isn't so much timely as "timeless" in the way it exposes the "everyday sexism" faced by women.
(More TV shows stories.)

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