Margaret Atwood’s dystopia in The Handmaid’s Tale is a terrifying vision of oppression; set in the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States of America. There’s been a coup, and an all-powerful, Christian fundamentalist army has imposed a grim new order on its (primarily female) citizens. There’s no escape and rules that must be obeyed. It’s within this brutal regime that we meet Offred, a Handmaid, the literal property of a high-ranking “commander,” who must forcibly bear him children. That is her only function. The book is mesmerising, compelling and considered one of her best-ever works and now, at a time when so many can see a likeness to our current events, it’s being made into a TV series.
There’s already considerable hype for the adaptation because it’s source material is so renowned. Here’s what we know about the 10-part series so far.
It has an all-star cast:
Elisabeth Moss (who played Peggy Olson on Mad Men) will take the lead as Offred; The Commander will be played by Joseph Fiennes, and Orange is the New Black’s Samira Wiley will play Moira, Offred’s best friend, and fellow Handmaid-in-training. Alexis Bledel – aka Gilmore Girls’ Rory – will play the enigmatic Ofglen, a fellow handmaid with a huge secret.
It’s message to women is timely and relevant:
Wiley explained that you can’t ignore the strong message the story has about women in today’s society. “I do think that this is the time that we’re living in now, and I feel like it’s a responsibility as artists to reflect the time that we’re living in,” she said. “This show is showing us about the climate that we’re living in. For me, personal issues and specifically women and their bodies and who has control of that—do we have control of it? Does someone else have control of it?—that shows in the book and that shows in the [TV series] and it shows in time that we’re living in right now.”
And as you’ll see from the below teaser, the series is all about the female prisoners of Gilead, not those who benefit from the regime.
The trailer is chilling:
The subject matter is so relevant to today; that’s it’s quite scary to think how Atwood’s vision for the future could ring true. At the beginning alone, we see women under attack by a totalitarian and misogynist society, take to the streets with placards, as they beg for their rights to be recognised. It’s frightening and visually beautiful and will no doubt be a must-watch.