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The Handmaid's Tale - Smile. It confuses people [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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The Handmaid's Tale [Jun. 27th, 2017|06:41 pm]
One of my shameful nerd/feminist secrets is that I bounced pretty hard off Margaret Atwood's writing. Like, I love Margaret Atwood as an idea, and I'm delighted that she exists out there in the world, but I've never especially enjoyed any of her books. In fact the only one that's ever really done anything for me is The Handmaid's Tale, and most of what it did was scare the bejesus out of me.

The other thing is that I have a new rule for watching telly, where if a season is, like, ten-ish episodes I'll wait till it's finished its run then I can consume it all over a week or so. This works well for shows like Orphan Black which work better for me when binged, but not at all when it came to The Handmaid's Tale, a show that needed some built in recovery time, and to be watched from behind your fingers with a strong drink to hand.


-I mean, it's a beautifully shot show. Everything is framed so carefully. The red of the handmaid's, contrasting with the starkness of Gilead, but still... EVERYTHING IS TRAUMATIC AND UPSETTING.

-It was really well cast. Like, really, properly well cast. Alexis Bledel was a revelation; jesus, that one episode where she was gagged the whole time and everything was in her eyes? There was more acting in that than in seven and a bit seasons of Gilmore Girls. I have mixed feelings about her returning as regular in season two. On the one hand, hell yeah, because she was just that good! On the other hand, I feel like as much as Gilead is a society that prizes fertility above all else if it gives the handmaids plot armour to the point where they can't be killed no matter what they do then that removes a sense of jeopardy. Producing a third hand from somewhere, if the show did anything with Emily's female genital mutilation it showed that Gilead is a society that can make life feel like death.

-Samira Wiley was the best thing about every scene she was in. The finale was really strong anyway, I thought. But the moments that are really sticking with me are the Moira ones; her collapsing in relief when she realised she'd made it to Canada, in the refugee centre not knowing what the right answer was when the administrator asked her what she wanted to do, just collapsing when Luke said she was family. She was horribly underused, though. That bit in Jezebels when she was telling June what had happened after she left her at the train station, did anyone else feel like there was meant to be a flashback there?

-The season got a little baggy in the middle, with the flashback episodes for Serena Joy, Luke, and Nick. And, seriously, you couldn't find room in there to catch us up with Moira?

-I have complicated feelings about Serena Joy. I mean, she is a terrible human being who brought this on herself and absolutely is not deserving of pity, but I can't help but pity her just a little. She seems to actually have a little self awareness about Gilead, especially with her line to June: "What we do to you is terrible... it's terribly hard." And Fred. Fred was just freaking creepy. The way his veneer of benevolent sexism slowly collapsed to reveal his core of outright misogyny.

-I have no complicated feelings about Nick. Why is Nick? those are my feelings about Nick. June and Luke had more chemistry when they were pretending not to flirt at the food truck than June and Nick did when they were actually having sex. It's like they were trying to keep Nick ambiguous for as long as possible and went too far and just ended up with a total non-entity. That relationship just didn't work for me at all.

-In an effort to stop the show from being too depressing to watch they manufactured triumphant notes for each episode to end on, which sometimes felt so forced they didn't work i.e. we're handmaids, bitches! And sometimes really did, June getting the opportunity to tell the Mexican trade delegate the truth about life in Gilead only for it to turn out that the woman already knows, of course she does.

-Actually, worldbuilding question: if the fertility crisis is worldwide, and so bad that Mexico is considering importing fertile women from Gilead (and good luck with that Mexican trade lady, ask Serena Joy how assuming that they're only going to oppress those other women worked out), are other countries considering going the way of Gilead, and what does that mean for the handmaids who have been getting out as refugees?

-My guess is that S2 will pull back from the claustrophobia of Gilead and the Waterhouse house specifically, but that just because you've escaped from Gilead it doesn't mean you've escaped from Gilead, you know.

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