Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
The Handmaid’s Tale – Hulu Originals
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is the story of a dystopian future involving the former United States that is destroyed in a time of plummeting birth rates by a totalitarian society known as Gilead, ruled by “traditional values”. They captured all fertile women, forcing them into a life of sexual servitude to create the children they themselves could not conceive. Though June’s (Elizabeth Moss) husband tried to get her and her daughter to Canada, June was captured and sent to a reform camp lead by sadistic Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) where women are tortured into being Handmaids owned by rich couples and sexually assaulted under the pretense of bringing God’s children into the world.
The Handmaids were not allowed to use their original names, rather given the name of the Commanders of their assigned households, so June became Offred, the Handmaid of Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski). Gilead also claimed the children that Handmaids had prior to the takeover and gave them to prominent families, including June’s daughter Hannah. Even wives were not allowed to read or educate themselves, a difficult scenario for former academic and activist Serena Joy, who ended up losing half a finger as punishment for reading books.
June had a best friend Moira (Samira Wiley), who was also captured by Gilead, but was able to escape to the city, and found herself becoming part of the Jezebels – a group of women the Commanders came to the city to have sexual rendezvous with outside the knowledge of their subservient wives. Moira eventually escaped the Jezebels to Canada, where she reunited with June’s husband Luke and both worked relentlessly to find and rescue June and Hanah.
Nick (Max Minghella) was Commander Waterford’s driver, and unknown to them was a eye/spy for the head group of Gilead’s Commanders. June and Nick had exchanged looks and passing words to reveal there was a romantic connection between them, though was something absolutely forbidden under Gilead rule. Due to the fact the Serena Joy was desperate to have a child, and thinking that her husband Fred may actually be sterile, she secretly asked Nick to impregnate June though let all believe it was Fred’s child.
June finally had her child, which Serena Joy named Nicole, and got her out to Canada with a Handmaid named Emily (Alexis Bledel) she helped to escape but would not join due to her commitment to rescue her own daughter Hannah. Fate did bring Hannah back to June for a brief time, but was unable to escape Gilead and eventually ended up being tortured back in line and assigned to a new Commander. All these events only fueled June’s commitment deciding she would try to save as many children as she could with the help of the other Handmaids and ended up getting 86 children on a plane to Canada, though was shot during the ordeal.
Season 4 opens with three episodes where at this point a few brave Handmaids work to save June’s life and evade capture. Nick became a prominent Commander, though finds himself constantly challenged by the conflict of doing his duty and wanting to protect June. Fred and Serena Joy were tricked into crossing the Canadian border and captured, turning on each other while both being held facing various criminal anti-humanitarian charges for their roles in Gilead.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is filled with gripping, edge of your seat moments that often feel paralyzing and hopeless, though somehow it’s clear June will not give up until she saves herself, her daughter and all the Handmaids she became the incidental leader for along the way.
4 Seasons – (10) 1hr Episodes