The Handmaid’s Tale has won widespread acclaim in the online streaming world, primarily because its creator, Hulu, distributes the first look at the show on its digital platform only. While this isn’t too uncommon, with the likes of Netflix and Showmax creating digital-only content, the story behind the show is quite phenomenal.
It all starts off with Margaret Atwood, a Canadian author who published a novel that gave a dystopian look into the near-future, where a faith-based totalitarian state overthrows the United States government.
The story takes place in Gilead, in a part of what used to be the United States, which faces extreme environmental disasters and a plunging birth rate. As a result, it treats women as property of the state. The story follows a handmaid called Offred (played in the series by Elisabeth Moss) who serves in the household of the Commander (played by Joseph Fiennes in the show). She is one of many women who are forced into sexual servitude in attempts to repopulate the world.
Offred lives in a world where one wrong word could end her life, so she must navigate between commanders, their infertile (and subsequently cruel) wives, and her fellow handmaids. She has one ultimate goal: to find her daughter who was taken from her.
The story eerily mirrors the reality of women’s reproductive rights in many parts of the world, especially when considering the patriarchal and religious aspects women encounter with pregnancy, abortion, and forced adoption.
Many fans are saying Season 3 is a must-watch before the highly anticipated Season 4.
The novel was published in 1985 and was far ahead of its time, in the leagues of George Orwell’s 1984. It was adapted for opera, ballet, graphic novel and a film, with a screenplay by legendary playwright Harold Pinter. The story was then adapted by Hulu into a series, which received favourable ratings in its first season.
Thanks to the high ratings, Hulu renewed the show for a second season. According to Hulu, the premiere of the second season attracted twice as many viewers as they were expecting, which naturally gave rise to the third season.
But there was a problem: the events of the book ended with the second season. That meant writing a new storyline, and it’s safe to assume the writers and Atwood kept it reigned in for the second book, all while keeping the audience happy with the story progression.
This proved to be a tricky job. While I thought the third season was good, this sentiment was not shared by other commentators. A fair criticism was made by Beth Elderkin from Gizmodo’s io9: “It’s changed from a dystopian nightmare to a revenge fantasy”.
Thankfully, Margaret Atwood released a sequel to her novel last year, over 30 years later, to allow the saga to continue as intended. As a result, many fans are saying Season 3 is a must-watch before the highly anticipated Season 4, based on the new sequel. (Season 4 comes to Showmax later in 2020.)
Overall, the show is highly entertaining for those who are fans of dystopian future-like shows like Westworld. Seasons 1 to 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale are available to stream on Showmax.