Warning: contains some spoilers.
The Handmaid’s Tale has finally dropped in Australia, giving us folks down under a chance to see what all the fuss in the news has been about.
It’s little wonder this show has become so talked about in the media. It is pretty compelling TV, and for good reason.
Based off Margaret Attwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale documents the lives of fertile women who are used to produce heirs for wealthy families unable to produce their own.
The series begins with the capture of Offred, who is separated from her family and taken to live with the Waterford’s in the hopes she might help them produce a child.
What follows after is terrifying tale. Terrifying because it could happen. Which is the main reason why the show has become a talking point.
In the dystopian future the show is set in, women are stripped of all their rights. Their money belongs to men. Their jobs belong to men. Their wombs belong to men.
The show flips between scenes of before and after the religious state of Gilead is established. Throughout the series we are shown scenes of Offred’s horrifying training as a Handmaid. Of cars, upon cars gathered outside the hospital as she leaves it with a child. Of shootings as angry women protest against the loss of their rights. And, of course, of Offred, living the life of a subjugated woman in a wealthy household. It’s pretty horrifying stuff.
Indeed, for anyone even remotely sensitive this show is bound to leave your emotions in tatters.
By far the most spine tingling scene in the series is in episode three where Ofglen, a handmaid who prefers women, is driven to what looks to be an industrial site where she watches her lover hanged. She later wakes up in a hospital to find a giant bandage between her legs and Aunt Lydia waiting to console her.
“You can still have children, of course, but things will be so much easier for you now,” she says.
This scene sets the tone for most of the series.
But of course, where there is tragedy there is also hope. For every horrible, terrible thing that happens in this show there seems to be a small victory. It’s hard not to admire the main character, Offred. She’s both smart and feisty, and her dry humour helps chilling episode after chilling episode feel a little more bearable.
If you think you can cope with it, this is must-watch TV.
Unfortunately, season one of The Handmaid’s Tale ends in much the same way the book does – on a cliffhanger. Offred is ushered away into a car – but to where we’re not really sure.
Luckily there’s going to be a season two so we may yet receive some semblance of a real conclusion.
Blessed be the fruit.