The Handmaid’s Tale Screen 13 articles

The Handmaid’s Tale


The Handmaid’s Tale Poster
  • The special event that loudly proclaimed its relevance, a preview of the first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale directed by Reed Morano and starring Elisabeth Moss could not have been more ecstatically received, except by this writer who deems it misogynist, terror porn, Moss’s ability to convey subtext notwithstanding.

  • Gradually, it occurred to me that I was watching a seven-hour-long orgy of violence against women... In what sense is it “feminist” to provide viewers with a glossy, sensationalized portrayal of women’s deepest anxieties and paranoias? What exactly is feminist about seeing women insulted, raped, humiliated, disfigured, beaten, tortured—and subjected to the sadistic whims of other women? If this is feminism, then so is girl-on-girl mud wrestling, or vintage prison films like Women Behind Bars.

  • The show’s dilemma, by contrast, is that it wants to give us the larger world, too, to tell the same story, but to tell it in more detail, more comprehensively. Atwood succeeded so well because she had more modest ambitions, and so thoroughly fulfilled them. But the show has much grander ambitions. It wants us to think that it’s all plausible, because This Show Is So Timely and Prophetic.

  • Buried beneath all of this is an intimate psychodrama capable of rescuing The Handmaid's Tale, rendering the series bearable, if not outright bingeable, while still appealing to the larger cultural conversation. It's in the mechanics of Offred's survival that the series is able to direct the audience's attention away from bawdy social commentary and toward its most compelling subject: the psychological damage of oppression.

  • Tedium is maybe an effective political tactic, but I guess it’s a hard strategy for good TV. I’m gonna be honest and say here that I found the first two episodes kind of dull... The Handmaid’s Tale is not, so far, perfectly executed television. But its difficulties seem to stem at least partly from how it’s trying to do something new, and difficult, and necessary: to make good television out of a story of solidarity we are only beginning to imagine how to tell.

  • If the guiding pace is a kind of oppressive slowness, the abrupt acceleration of this “legal” process and the quickness of its result is nauseatingly fast. These episodes work to establish a dystopic ordinary—related, crucially, to what you’re describing as “tedium”—but they also periodically, and with spectacular force, challenge our acceptance of it.

  • Hulu’s adaptation is gorgeous to look at, which is meant to make the scenes of blood and violence all the more shocking. Yet, the show doesn’t render gore gruesome so much as exquisite... So far, the violence has steadily ramped up with each episode, and perhaps there’s something to be said for relentless terror (like in certain horror films), but it’s hard to tell what the long game is right now.

  • Bleak as the show’s prognosis for our culture may be, there is also something galvanizing and inspiring about it, that urges against the complacency June displays in those early flashbacks. “The Handmaid’s Tale” elegantly feeds the flame of resistance right now by making us realize that even this world, this broken old thing, that is in so many ways less than it was even a year ago, is still something we can lose, and therefore still something worth fighting for.

  • The Handmaid’s Tale quietly forces the audience into the position of the handmaid herself: To watch is to feel the daily realities, the sensations and smells, the invisible constrictions and silent aggressions of living under patriarchy. In this way, The Handmaid’s Tale is both a beauty to behold and a slap in the face, employing a vibrant film language that not only proves itself the equal to, but expands upon its canonical source text.

  • “Now I’m awake to the world,” Offred tells us in one of those whispery confessionals. “I was asleep before.” The Handmaid’s Tale has the same effect. It’s a bracing, thoroughly engrossing wake-up call that puts a lump in the throat and never lets it dissolve. And for that I say: praise be.

  • The familiarity of these faces makes the show’s dreamlike visuals all the more disorienting. The screenwriters use voice-overs to relay Offred’s stream-of-consciousness narration, drawing us into her mind... The camera, hovering over characters’ shoulders, turns and kaleidoscopes like something out of a hallucination. The soundtrack plays covers of eighties classics like “Where Is My Mind?,” by the Pixies, heightening the sense that time has come unmoored.

  • One of the best shows of the 2016-2017 season. It’s also one of the most challenging. The drama is beautifully lit and gorgeously directed, and the protagonist is performed with singular clarity by Elisabeth Moss. And yet there are times where the show is, for lack of a better word, basic — simplistic, in a way that seems out of pace with what the rest of the show is accomplishing.

  • Hulu couldn't have known when they green-lit this that, by the time it came out, the American left would think that even Mike fucking Pence would be a step in the right direction. It's slow to start, but as the characters become characters and not merely political avatars, the intrigue deepens and it becomes, ya know, damn good television. Prophesy? It's more a cathartic pastime. But what does that say about 2017?

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