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The Handmaid’s Tale

After years of developing original content, it appears that the streaming service Hulu has finally found its marquee series.

The Handmaid’s Tale S1: A-

Scoring an impressive 8 Emmy nominations and emerging as a timely and terrifying viewing experience, THE HANDMAID’S TALE easily ranks amongst the best television programs of the year.

Set in a modern iteration of the United States where society as we know it is a thing of the past, a woman named Offred (Elizabeth Moss) has been stripped of everything that she holds dear. Her husband has been murdered, her daughter has been taken from her, and she must live a life that is dictated by others.

In Offred’s world, most women have lost the ability to bear children. Those who are still fertile are a rarity, and forced into a life of sexual slavery. Stripped of their rights in regards to their own thoughts, actions, and decisions, they are placed in the homes of rich, important people. There, they are subjected to a bizarre, unsettling mating ritual, where pleasure has been eradicated and the need to reproduce has become an obsession.

THE HANDMAID’S TALE is structured in a way that is reminiscent of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. Bouncing between current events and those that have happened in the past, it tells a number of different stories that weave together to create a disturbing, haunting narrative. Highlighting how quickly society can crumble, and the relative ease in which the population would accept this collapse, it is a bleak and uncomfortably believable vision of what could happen if Americans simply sat back and watched the nation spiral out of control.

The ensemble cast is phenomenal, with Ann Dowd (as the ruthless Aunt Lydia), Samira Wiley (as Offred’s friend from before the fall of civilization) and Alexis Bledel (as a fellow, tortured Handmaid) all earning Emmy nominations. Moss, best known for her co-starring role in MAD MEN, looks to be the favorite heading into the Emmy’s for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Her character is not without her flaws, but speaks to the audience in a way that is blunt and honest. She makes difficult, and at times, deplorable decisions that blur the line between heroism and neglect. Her struggle is palpable, and as she attempts to navigate this fearful new world, it is difficult to second-guess some of her actions, whether you agree with them or not.

Thought-provoking, thrilling, and exuding an ability to push boundaries and get under the skin of its viewer, Hulu’s masterful series The Handmaid’s Tale has instantly become one of the best shows on television.

There is social commentary abound throughout the entirety of this debut season, and forces the viewer to question what they would do if placed in this precarious position. The flashback sequences are just as strong and unnerving as those taking place after the collapse, and strike a chord of realism that makes HANDMAID’S TALE far more frightening than anything we’ve seen in AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Without being overtly political or taking stances against current policies or agendas, it is nevertheless a brazen warning shot against intolerance and beleaguered acceptance. Thought-provoking, thrilling, and exuding an ability to push boundaries and get under the skin of its viewer, Hulu’s masterful series has instantly become one of the best shows on television.

Brian Miller
Film Critic
Based out of Central New York, Brian Miller is a film critic who works in television, radio, and print. Providing passionate and energetic takes on every movie he sees, he looks for the best in a movie, not the worst.