Not since my teenage years have I given much thought about morality and sex. Then came The Handmaid’s Tale. I have to say that out of all the TV binging I’ve done, Handmaid’s tale has so far been the most intense. In this dystopian world of Handmaid’s Tale, a religiously based autocracy has taken over most of the United States. When women’s fertility rate drops to an alarming low level, the new order forces women to become handmaids, a class forced to bear children for the elite couples of which one or both are sterile.
The awesome actress Elizabeth Moss plays Offred, a woman forced to be a handmaid. At the heart of their practices is The Ceremony, a highly ritualized sexual act involving the elite couple and their handmaid. A very bizarre twist on a menage a trois, if you ask me. Almost as bizarre is the birthing ritual. In one scene Offred visits a house where another handmaid is going into labor. When she walks past the living room, she sees a group of wives surrounding the mistress of the house who is lying on the floor pretending to have contraction pains. Upstairs Offred joins other handmaids who are chanting breathing instructions to the handmaid in labor. Finally, when it’s time for the baby, all the wives enter the bedroom and the mistress of the house positions herself right behind the handmaid to maximize her vicarious experience.
If you haven’t seen the show, you might think these scenes are far-fetched. But the genius of the show is its ability to convincingly portray a world where a natural crisis is solved by religious fanaticism. The Handmaid’s tale will make you very grateful for the separation of government and religion. Furthermore, the themes explored by the show, particularly the oppression of women, are very relevant particularly given our current political climate where reality is debated so heavily and alternate competing story lines are peddled as reality.
I highly recommend this show. On the upside, you will be forced to think about the world you live in and appreciate the freedoms you have while being highly entertained. The only downside: you might develop a dislike for your red outfits.