As usual, I’m late on the train, watching this show in 2022. It first aired in 2017, so I had a lot of catching up to do; but, late is better than never!
I came across this show at probably the worst time of my life. I am currently 5 months pregnant and each and every episode seems to bring me to tears. Sometimes I get the throat-locking, not able to swallow emotion, and then there’s the ugly crying. I think other than Outlander, it’s one of the most emotional series I’ve ever watched.
And…it scares the hell out of me.
If I had started watching it back in 2017, I would probably have been ok. As it is, going through the Pandemic and having to live in Canada during that time, I see a lot of resemblances to the show. It all comes down to rights, and choice and having those removed by someone else who thinks it’s for the greater good. The problem with that, is that the group of people “in charge” (The Sons of Jacob aka Gilead) have a lot of sway power and can easily convince people that what they do is for the common good. That’s what scares the hell out of me.
Oppression is paramount to the plot of the movie. In The Handmaids Tale, we see girls who are punished for not doing their “tasks”. Some of these tasks include killing other people because they broke a rule made up by the Sons of Jacob. The handmaids are asked to stone one of their fellow handmaids, and when they don’t comply, they get burned, get their tongue cut out, or worse. The girls are required to be locked up and are escorted by armed guards. They are not allowed to have guests, or speak their minds. Martial law is required to bring people under control by this religious group.
Similarities existed during the Pandemic, for the “supposed good” of man-kind. If people did not get vaccinated, their jobs were threatened. They were turned into pariahs because everyone who followed the “rules” believed these people were deviants. We had curfews, and could only go to limited places. We were not allowed to speak on the pandemic for fear of disturbing others and disturbing the peace. Who cares about rights, right? We might as well have been living in Gilead having babies for people under oppression. Maybe get our mouths ringed shut so we couldn’t voice any opinions.
The thing that scares me is how many commonalities there are in these two scenarios. One is control by a religious group that overtakes the government, based in the United States, and the other is government doing the controlling and enacting Martial Law. (Who ever believed that would be Canada?) The people writing the Handmaid’s Tale most certaintly didn’t. (I.e. The show portrays Canada as the refugee country, meaning safety and freedom). It also scares me that I would find so many commonalities between a completely made up scenario, and real life. Who ever thought our society in this day and age would be so oppressed in such a major and all-encompassing way?
In the show, although at times it seemed as if women were the ones being oppressed, it was truly everyone. Men were hung for harming women, instead of incarcerated, and people were punished if they were living together and not married. Some characters in the show who created Gilead came to the realization that maybe their vision wasn’t so great after all. They then tried to change their ways, and start saving the many women and children stolen from their families.
In the show, Canada was accepting Gilead refugees. It was absolutely heartbreaking watching these people, that could be as real as you and I, experiencing these tragic situations. Not only were women and children captured and contained, they were trained to rewire their thinking. There was no such thing as escape, because the punishments were so brutal. It scared people and caused them to become anxious, depressed and feeling like there was no way out.
Some lucky (and very bold) people managed to start change. (Welcome main character). I could see her persona change throughout the seasons as I watched. It was interesting, because she appeared to be meek and mild at first. Then her boldness started to show, she would get punished, and it turned into this cycle until there came a point she was thinking homicidal thoughts. She would get a kind or uplifting word from someone and then she would do a 180 and try to fight back once more.
By the time this blog goes live, I will be watching Season 5. According to the media, the show ends with Season 6 which will hopefully premier in 2023. If you have watched the show, tell me what you think and how it has changed the way you think. Did it scare you? Good. Maybe we need to be scared. Let’s hope that oppression is abated in today’s world. People need to be free to live and prosper.