The Handmaid’s Tale: Pilot Review
Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot gives viewers a first look at a dystopian America where a totalitarian government rules over the land and has stripped the rights from women. The show gives us a glimpse of a dreaded future and it does it so realistically. It reflects on the political atmosphere that we are facing in modern times, making it just as relevant as ever. Besides all the politics, it’s also entertaining television at it’s finest.
Democracy has been declining in America after an attack leaves the country in shambles. With pollution causing a rise in infertility, a Christian-based fundamentalist group known as Gilead takes over the government and seizes control of the country. The story focuses on Offred (Elizabeth Moss), a young woman who is forced to become a ‘Handmaid’ in order to bear a child for a high-ranking authoritative figure Fred (Joseph Fiennes) since his wife Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) can’t have children. The series doesn’t come off as just about a woman fighting the system. It’s also a tale about empowerment and the fighting against a totalitarian system. With a woman facing some tough obstacles, it certainly relates to our times.
Discussing The Handmaid’s Tale without acknowledging the political landscape would be wrong. Even though Margaret Atwood’s book was published in the mid-80s, the topics are still important as the series takes inspiration from recent media coverage, especially with the flashbacks detailing the origins of America’s fall. Hulu’s latest series depicts a horrible version of America where its citizens have given in to the new government and prejudice, which was never outspoken in public, has been allowed. It’s perfectly clear that in order for people to give up their freedom is if a natural crisis takes place and safety becomes a major concern for them.
The line between reality and fiction are blurred in ways that only a dystopian series such as The Handmaid’s Tale can accomplish. This version of America is reminiscent to other pieces of work like Children of Men without any of the complexities of the world being created on it. This has so much to do with the amazing development of the environment and the tone, which is presented by the color-schemed quality of the picture and the haunting score. Even though this isn’t like a horror movie, the world of The Handmaid’s Tale is just as horrifying as the state of war-torn countries.
With the feel of The Handmaid’s Tale, one notable characteristic of the show is the endless sense of fear that saturates into everything in this new world. We get the idea that the Gilead movement can see everything, meaning that Offred can’t trust anyone. Being on high alert everywhere she goes and does can often feel suffocating for Offred. We find out that she had a real name, a loving husband, and a daughter in another life. After the state takes her daughter, the only thing that keeps Offred going is the thought of seeing her child again. Despite her personality in front of her peers, only the viewers know her true feelings and inner thoughts as she narrates her struggles.
Seeing that the book focuses mainly on the viewpoint of Offred, she’s already well established in the series, but it can be a problem if not all the characters get their fair share of being a part of the story. Perhaps the rest of the season fixes that issue with some good subplots. Alexis Bledel’s Ofglen and Samira Wiley’s Moira do get some interesting developments in the first episode, especially with what’s revealed about Moira towards the end of the pilot. Even Ann Dowd’s Aunt Lydia makes for a terrifying force to be reckoned with. So hopefully the development these two along with the other cast members get expanded as the season goes on.
Overall, the first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale helps set up an interesting premise with a great cast of characters led by the rawness of Elizabeth Moss and her character Offred. This contemporary retelling of Margaret Atwood’s popular book is definitely something to marvel at. This tale is about how far along the government has come or may come, seeing that we are only taking a step backwards instead of forward.
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