Friday, April 28, 2017

TV review: The Handmaid's Tale, episodes 1-3, on Hulu

TV review: The Handmaid's Tale, episodes 1-3, on Hulu
I have been watching a lot of really, really good TV lately - and it's mostly been on streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu. I binged Girlboss (Netflix) last weekend, I watched 13 Reasons Why (also Netflix) a few weeks ago, and this week, I watched all three episodes of The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu) in one day.

To give you some background on me: this is not my only blog. I write here and also at my book blog, so when Hulu announced last year that they planned on making an adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, I was very excited. I read the book in high school (and still own it, actually) and it was great.

I watched half of the first episode on Wednesday, when it premiered, before work; I finished it on my lunch break that day; and I (mini) binged episodes 2 and 3 after work that day.

Needless to say: all of them were very, very good. (and now I want to binge ALL of them, but can't because Hulu is only releasing one per week, on Wednesdays. Why must you toy with us like this, Hulu?!)

TV review: The Handmaid's Tale, episodes 1-3, on Hulu
Elisabeth Moss as Offred/June, and Samira Wiley as Moira

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) plays Offred, but before the United States became Gilead, she had another name and life: June, who was a mother to a young child, Hannah (Jordana Blake), and a wife to Luke (O-T Fagbenle). When it looks like it's no longer safe for them to stay in their home, they make a run for it to Canada, through the Maine border; unfortunately, (semi-spoiler) Luke is murdered, and Hannah is taken from June.

Now, Offred is a handmaid, who lives in the home of Commander Fred Waterford (her new name is literally, Of-Fred - if she were to be re-assigned to another house, her name would change) and his wife, Serena Joy. In the new republic, most women are infertile; as a handmaid, Offred's job is to get pregnant by her Commander, so that he and his wife can have a baby. June's personality still lives inside Offred, though, and although Offred is meek and religious on the outside, June wants to change her circumstances by any means possible.

TV review: The Handmaid's Tale, episodes 1-3, on Hulu
Alexis Bledel as Ofglen, and Elisabeth Moss as Offred/June

The cast here is impressive - in addition to Moss, we have Alexis Bledel (aka Rory Gilmore) as Ofglen, Offred's shopping partner and later, confidante; Joseph Fiennes as Commander Waterford; Yvonne Strahovski (The Astronaut Wives Club) as Serena Joy; Max Minghella (The Social Network) as Nick, the Commander's driver; and Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black) as Moira, a friend of June's who later resurfaces in the new world as a fellow handmaid.

Elisabeth Moss definitely steals the show here, but the other castmembers are all stand-outs as well.

TV review: The Handmaid's Tale, episodes 1-3, on Hulu
credit: spoilertv.com
I don't usually talk political here on my blog, but I will say that part of what makes this show so scary is that it's similar to the current political climate, even though the book was actually written 32 years ago, in 1985 (before dystopian was even classified as "dystopian," really). June and Moira talk about small annoyances, Before—the show casually mentions modern-day conveniences like Uber and Tinder, actually—and we slowly see how the United States turns into Gilead.

(In one scene, we see June get "laid off" from her job as an editor - but all of the other women in the office are laid off as well, and their boss says that it's now the law of the land. June can't access any money in her bank, either, because all womens accounts have been frozen; her husband, Luke, is allowed to access the money, though.)

TV review: The Handmaid's Tale, episodes 1-3, on Hulu
Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy, wife of Commander Waterford
In another scene, June and Moira go running together, and stop at a coffee shop, where there's a new guy working the counter. June's credit card gets declined (see above for the reason why), and the employee calls them "sluts," even though their workout attire is fairly modest.

The world of Gilead is pretty terrifying—scenes of the "Ceremony" between the Commander, Serena Joy, and Offred, while done tastefully, are hard to watch—but also very fascinating, especially since we see June's world before, when the United States was very similar to our current United States. I'm assuming the show will have more flashbacks, as well, so we can see exactly how the U.S. transitioned to Gilead - in the show, Offred does mention that the United States still exists, but it's down to only two states, with Anchorage, Alaska as the nation's capitol.

TV review: The Handmaid's Tale, episodes 1-3, on Hulu

I'm definitely curious to see the rest of the series, and I'll be heading to Hulu every Wednesday to see it.

Have you watched the series and/or read the book yet? What did you think of them?

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