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The Handmaid's Tale and its alarming relevance in the Trump era

The Handmaid's Tale and its alarming relevance in the Trump era

The Handmaid's Tale and its alarming relevance in the Trump era

It's here! Hulu's original series The Handmaid's Tale premieres today, and there's just a few things you should know before you dig in to the dark and disturbing drama. The show takes place in a dystopian universe where the US has become a brutal theocracy and fertile women are essentially turned into sex slaves.

A generation after the book was published and became a movie, "The Handmaid's Tale" has been turned into a jolting TV series, representing a huge step up in class for Hulu.

As Peggy Olson in "Mad Men", Moss was part of an era in which women were objectified and harassed. The author has taken issue with certain aspects of early feminism, which took a stand against feminine modes of self-expression; she's also said that the story is about power dynamics more broadly, and could've been told from a man's point of view.

"She's just a badass", Wiley said. "So many things are forbidden now". We immediately meet the titular handmaid, Offred (Elisabeth Moss), and see glimpses of her life before the religious takeover.

In this terrifying society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred navigates between Commanders, their cruel Wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids - where anyone could be a spy for Gilead - all with one goal: to survive and find the daughter that was taken from her.

So, the choice to include a splotch of blood in "The Handmaid's Tale" is a bold one. Some of this happens through show-don't-tell, like when Offred first meets the Commander's Wife, but much of the plot is conveyed through Offred's voiceover. According to this fictional world's rules, women must cover their heads and wear gowns that cover them from their necks to their ankles - something I'm not unfamiliar with.

And though it the book is a work of fiction, Atwood decided that she would put nothing into it that hadn't happened to women somewhere on earth at one time or another.

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The novel found an audience from the start and has kept it, never going out of print, and joining high school and college reading lists across the country.

"Everyone approved of that", Atwood wrote, "since it was obvious you couldn't be too careful". This only works if you haven't read the book, and even then it fails to do its job. "On the negative side, for reasons that you would not necessarily wish". It also makes full use of Moss, with disturbingly intimate close-ups that allow us to feel every bit of her silent, yet passionate emotions as Offred's heart breaks again and again. Atwood explained in a series of tweets that while the cast of the series is pro-feminist, the actors are also aware that there are those for whom it the word conjures negative connotations.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is one of a handful of dystopian novels that have seen a boost in sales since the 2016 election. Just a year ago, a tampon company made waves by showing women boxing and climbing, and getting bloody as a result.

Menstruation is part of many women's daily (or, monthly) lives, but the visual display of it remains a taboo in media.

For the past few years, Hollywood has been enamored with dystopias pulled from young adult fiction - stories like The Hunger Games and Divergent, where the evil government provides a structure for our heroes to rebel against, a set of villains for them to defeat. Moss made her acting debut in 1990 in Lucky/Chances.

Moss isn't helped much by the sometimes lumbering dialogue, written by series creator Bruce Miller.

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