I started hearing the buzz about The Handmaid’s Tale a few months ago. It was released in the US in April and has been dubbed “brilliant”, “terrifying” and a profoundly unsettling tale of “what if”.
“What if” women’s rights were stripped in the name of greater good? “What if” men ruled all women in a new fundamentalist Christian society? “What if” your rights were stripped away so your new normal was life as a baby making slave?
The Handmaid’s Tale is 10 episodes of unsettling, violent and important viewing. Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel the US government has been overthrown in a bloody coup and now The Republic Of Gilead rules. This is a near future where environmental pollution is so toxic fertility has plummeted and only a few women can now bear children.
These women are given over to the Republic Of Gilead’s elite, to have babies for “barren” couples. Gilead is a cruel place where women are property, punishment for not obeying the myriad of backward rules is harsh and paranoia and division permeate everything.
LISTEN: In a special bonus episode of The Binge, Mamamia unpacks this years’ most important TV show, The Handmaid’s Tale (post continues after audio…)
What great family viewing I thought…
I didn’t think that. I thought I want to watch this so much, but can I watch this with my daughters who are 17, 15 and 12? I re-read Atwood’s book in preparation (her updated February 2017 intro to her novel is brilliant reading in itself).
I watched the trailer a few times. I asked the 17 -year-old. She has exams and couldn’t commit to over ten hours of TV. I ruled out the 12-year-old because the subject matter is too disturbing and the trailers looked too violent and graphic.
That left my thoughtful 15-year-old. She’s the quietest and most self-contained of the girls. I figured we would watch the first episode together and if it was too much she could bail.