Friday, June 16, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale Book/TV Review & Comparison

Author: Margaret Atwood

Genre: Dystopian

My Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

My Thoughts: The Handmaid's Tale is known to most today as one of the great modern classics. It was a futuristic dystopian, before that genre was even cool (i.e. The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, etc.). I honestly didn't know what to expect going into this book because I knew very little about the story or the author really. I had heard many great things, but some how always managed to escape learning about the plot. Overall, I would say this was the absolute best way to go into The Handmaid's Tale. I was taken for a journey and was able to experience the surprised and horrifying feelings with little pretext. Even though this book talks about some really uncomfortable topics, I found that I couldn't stop reading. 

What makes this book even scarier and more prevalent are the issues our nation is facing nowadays. I feel like every time I see the news, something is happening that brings us so much closer to the reality of this story. It's a scary thought, but with this novel's TV adaptation I am hoping that the story will find a broader audience and can bring the story to a new generation (like myself). The one issue that I found myself having was the fact that this story was told through the perspective of one person. I personally feel that if we had a multiple perspective style of storytelling, we would have gotten a broader understanding of the new world of Gilead.

Network: Hulu

Genre: Drama

My Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: See above

My Thoughts: While very different than the book, the TV adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale took the messages and ideas of the book to a whole new level. I never once felt like the show went too far off track or that it was trying to tell a different story than what Margaret Atwood intended. The new story lines hit me hard. I found myself literally taken aback by the messages and visuals. This show has a strong opinion and it is one that feel needs to be heard by the masses.

The new society that is Gilead is a terrifying place to be. Infertility is at a high and women are essentially kidnapped out of their lives and forced to procreate for families that cannot do it themselves. I cannot and will not try to imagine what it would be like to live in this kind of society. With everything that is going on in our nation with regards to abortion and feminism, I hope we are not going down that path but I have no control over that. Side note aside, this show was magical in its acting, its cinematography, and especially its world building. While I do have some remaining questions (particularly regarding race), this show will be back and (unlike the book) have many opportunities to build upon the story they have started. The other aspect of the show that I liked was the strange use of modern day music. This type of music doesn't seem to fit the shows visual style, but somehow it worked for me. It always made me feel empowered and that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent start to a new journey and I personally am so happy that this show was renewed for a second season. While I felt that the first half of the season was stronger than the latter, the season as a whole was very impactful and empowering. As a women, there were scenes with the treatment of handmaid's that brought me to near tears while there were other scenes showing resistance that made me scream "Hell yes!". As an adaptation, I think Hulu is doing a phenomenal job (even though a lot of the first season is completely new material). I applaud what Hulu has managed to do for television and for women and I certainly hope it gets the recognition it deserves when Emmy season comes around.

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