The Handmaid's Tale (TV series)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Skipper, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

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    That last episode was the first one which almost completed departed from the plot of the novel. With one minor exception: Mrs. Waterford originally having an active part in the "movement", before being relegated to a powerless status after Gilead was formed (be careful what you wish for, huh?). But the whole Mexico stuff is original content.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  2. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Atwood said she drew on real historical and current events for the novel. Keep in mind that at the time this novel was published, Brian Mulroney had been our Prime Minister for about a year, and while he was gung-ho about free trade deals, his first one didn't include Mexico - it was just Canada/U.S. So the Mexico stuff in the episode (I haven't been able to see the episode yet) is likely based on things that have happened long after.

    The novel does have a scene where Offred and the first Ofglen encounter a group of Japanese tourists and find it an utterly surreal experience as it's hard for them to remember having had the freedoms that the Japanese women in the group take for granted (they can wear whatever clothing they please, makeup, hairstyles... they're not restricted in any way and don't have to adopt conservative Gilead dress or manners). So in the novel, it's hinted that Gilead trades with non-North American countries, and the TV series appears to have substituted Mexico instead.

    This brings up something that just occurred to me: In all three versions of this story (book, movie, and TV series) emphasis is placed on people escaping to Canada. Neither the book nor the movie mention people attempting to escape to Mexico or anywhere else.
     
  3. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    Well, this takes place approximately in New England, right? Considering the narrow focus of the story, it makes sense Canada is the only one mentioned. Perhaps something will be mentioned later on in the show and refugees are part of why this aide is involved with the underground?
     
  4. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    On the other hand, mention is made of California and Florida. And if you read the afterword in the novel, other places are mentioned as well.
     
  5. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This is the best show on "TV" right now. I've been really impressed with every episode. If they had all been released in one day, I would have sat there for 10 hours straight and watched all of them. Interestingly, this was the first episode to not be entirely from June's point of view. It was completely unexpected, but really enjoyable. I like how they're slowly humanizing Mrs Waterford and Aunt Lydia.
     
  6. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    There's something about the Aunt Lydia actress's voice that was nagging at me, particularly in the first episode when she was babbling on about being quiet like little mice. I kept thinking I'd heard that voice before, but upon checking the actress' profile, I found nothing familiar.

    Then it hit me: Dustin Hoffman's "Tootsie" voice.

    :cardie:
     
  7. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

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    I think it's safe to assume that the Mexican ambassador's aide was a member of the "Mayday" movement. That handmaid (what's her name?) who told June at the dinner event that they're planning to sell them to Mexico is probably a Mayday member as well. In any case, she seems to know a lot. Or maybe she's an Eye pretending to be a Mayday member.
     
  8. CommanderRaytas

    CommanderRaytas DISCO QUEEEEEEN Rear Admiral

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    This. I like that they didn't go the easy route, but that they created complex characters both male and female. Serena Joy is partially responsible for the current regime, she is a horrible zealot, and yet, she is three-dimensional. Even Aunt Lydia isn't just horrible, and not every Handmaid hates her new life. It just gives the entire show a creepy feeling of authenticity, a foreboding aura of "this could happen to us". The talks they had with the Mexicans, as well as the Ambassador's reaction to June's honesty added a lot to the story'd complexity. I love it.
     
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  9. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    I won't be able to watch it for over a week... :(
     
  10. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    This article from Glamour titled "For Me, 'The Handmaid's Tale' is More Than Fiction, It's a Dark Reminder of Slavery" showed up on my Facebook News Feed today. This following paragraph stood out to me the most:

    "So I find myself a little frustrated and jealous that my white feminist allies are able to digest The Handmaid’s Tale through the lens of a fictitious foreboding, instead of an alarming recount of a very real and dark past. It’s a privilege to be horrified and shocked by the imagery of this show. It likely means that you’ve never had to truly envision yourself as the victim of systematic oppression. The concept of being assaulted, caged, mentally and physically oppressed, and repeatedly sexually violated gets to be a fictional concept in your mind, not a part of your family’s history."
    This is the second time in as many days I've seen this point brought up, the other in just a regular conversation on Facebook. Shamefully, I haven't thought of the show in those terms, instead, focusing on how it relates on current events. After reading this article, it seems so obvious.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
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  11. CommanderRaytas

    CommanderRaytas DISCO QUEEEEEEN Rear Admiral

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    ^ Totally. We try to not to do the whole 'white feminist' thing, and end up sitting on our privilege and thinking ourselves super profound anyway. I honestly hadn't viewed the book and show from this angle, either.
     
  12. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

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    So, that last episode - "The Other Side" - could have been titled "Luke's Story" just as easily.

    It started with a pretty convenient coincidence, the ambulance which took Luke away having an accident which allowed him to escape. Other than, I found it to be a pretty good episode which continued the solid world-building of the Handmaid's Tale universe. This time, we were granted insight into the plight of the people who make it to Canada or at least try to. The most eerie part was probably the discovery that there are apparently abandoned ghost towns all across Gilead whose inhabitants fell victim to purges of the new regime. One starts to wonder how large of a percentage of the United States's population was killed in the coup d'etat and the ensuing violence and carnage.

    It was also the second episode in a row which completely departed from the plot of the novel btw.
     
  13. UncleRogi

    UncleRogi Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This is the society the religious right in America wants. What is scary is evangelical fundamentalists
    getting elected to high office.
     
  14. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    With every episode of "The Handmaid's Tale," I feel my heart ripped apart. I'm always left feeling that the next episode can't get any worse. But it does. Every. Damn. Time.

    The show isn't without hope but that doesn't make the story any less brutal.

    And it was a double whammy this week: Both the church and the hallway, although I certainly cried a lot more during the hallway scene. Funnily, that scene reminded me of several in early Battlestar Galactica, but those scenes didn't resonate on the same level. I think that must come down to The Handmaid's Tale feels very possible while Battlestar Galactica was more far flung.

    That being said, I reeally enjoyed this episode, seeing what happened to Luke and gaining further insight to Gilead and Canada. The only thing that felt odd was that the time jump was three years. I hadn't gotten the impression that the time from June's capture to her assignment at the commodore's house was that long. I thought it was six months at most. Was she really "in training" for that long?
     
  15. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    It was stated in both the novel and the series that the Waterfords were her second placement. In the novel she was hospitalized after her capture, as she had a breakdown after Luke's death and her daughter being ripped away from her, and then she went through the Red Center training (which I assume took an unspecified number of months, to both train the Handmaids and to condition them to accept their captivity - isolate them from the outside world to make them more receptive to being brainwashed).

    After that, Offred went to her first placement (her name obviously wouldn't have been "Offred" then; it would have been "Of(the Commander's first name)". She was unsuccessful at producing a baby, so the Waterfords were her second placement (after their first Handmaid hanged herself).

    The novel explains that the Handmaids are allowed three chances - three different Commanders - to get them pregnant, and if they do manage to have a baby, well and good - they'll never be sent to the Colonies, never be declared "UnWoman"... but they will be sent on to yet another Commander to have yet another baby (they'll never be allowed further contact with the one they did have). But if, after three Commanders and no baby, they're declared barren and sent to the Colonies.

    This is why Offred takes Serena Joy's offer of Nick. She's sure the Commander can't get her pregnant, but Nick is younger and healthier, so he's a better bet. The Colonies are basically a death sentence, and Offred has stated that she wants to survive - which includes taking chances that are as safe as she's willing to try (in the movie Serena Joy nixes the choice of a doctor, since "Doctors blackmail" - and if they're found out, both the Handmaid and the doctor are executed for fornication).

    So a 3-year time jump is in keeping with how much time has passed since her initial capture. The one thing that annoys me in the TV series is that some things are presented as being new to Offred (the shopping, navigating the household hierarchy - ie. not letting the Marthas take credit for something she did, like buying oranges) when she should already know this since this is her second placement, not the first.

    My personal head canon says that her first placement was with someone considerably lower on the chain of command than Waterford was, and everything was mind-numbingly unremarkable - enough to beat her down emotionally and make her accept her new life, but not enough to shock her like some of the things in her second placement did.

    In the novel it's obvious that Serena Joy was based on Tammy Faye Bakker, and the movie shows Serena Joy watching an old video of herself on TV, singing a hymn.
     
  16. BillJ

    BillJ The King of Kings Admiral

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    You're obviously well versed in the book. Whether or not this is her first or second assignment, the newness of the menial chores is probably more for people like me who are only passingly familiar with the book.
     
  17. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    Huh, I must've missed that fact. I knew she was the second Offred but I didn't know this was her second assignment. That would make more sense if that was the case.
     
  18. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Yes, I think the "this is new" vibe is for the audience's benefit, since it shouldn't be new to Offred.

    This part actually makes more sense in the 1990 movie, since it's clear in that version that the Waterfords (they're never named in the movie, but Offred's name is given as Kate - which I prefer instead of "June") are her first placement, but of course there was another Offred before her. The movie is much more linear than either the novel or the TV series - the major scenes are there, but the ending is unlike the book (it annoyed me when a friend, who saw the movie before I did, blurted out the ending).

    I'm honestly trying not to mention major spoilers here, since there's something coming up which the TV series hasn't gotten to yet. I am surprised that they decided to un-kill Luke, since he remains dead in the novel and the movie. It's nice to hear because I like the actor who plays him. It's going to be another 8 days before I can see that episode, though - Canada is a week and a half behind the U.S.

    I was first exposed to Atwood's writing in one of my college English courses in the early '80s (her essays - she's an excellent essayist). Fast forward a couple of years, and then the Handmaid's Tale novel came out. I read it, and was utterly croggled. It's one of those near-future dystopian novels that could actually happen if the conditions were a little bit different.

    I'd also been reading a lot of F.M. Busby's novels around that time, and one element in those was that the U.S. government could no longer afford its own system, so multinational conglomerates began bidding for the right to govern, and the citizens would vote not for candidates like now, but for which conglomerate would run things. One of those conglomerates just decided to take over everything - first North America and then most of the planet. It instituted Total Welfare - debtor's prison on a planetary scale, and which included tossing children into it and political prisoners.

    So I was into dystopian stuff in the '80s, and one thing that I liked about the Handmaid's Tale was that the ending was ambiguous. And then a few years later the movie came out. I saw it twice in the theatre, and by that time (1990) I'd already read the book two or three times. I've read it maybe another half-dozen times since then.

    Sometimes I'm just in the mood for a depressing dystopian story, and this is one of my go-tos for that - and it's a damn good reminder to keep fundamentalist religious nuts out of the government.

    There are some good fanfiction stories posted on fanfiction.net (in the books section). I'm working on my own - a crossover with Sliders, of all things. Since I started it years ago, of course it's based on the book and movie and has none of the elements of the TV series (might change my mind on that, since it would be easier to write Rembrandt's part of the story; in the novel and movie all the non-white people are either sent to the colonies, deported, or killed).
     
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  19. WarpFactorZ

    WarpFactorZ Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    OK, I call bullshit on this series. As a fellow Canuck, I get and respect that Atwood's novel was provocative and a warning of potential futures... but jeez, the entire prospect is ridiculous. Moreover, the depiction in the series is intellectually offensive. A group of hipsters -- on break while their microbrews ferment -- succeed in overthrowing the entire US government and impose a totalitarian patriarchy where ginormous swaths of the population are subjugated/tortured/executed. Meanwhile, every other country in the world stands idly by and says 'geez... ok.. what should we do for you?'.

    Sorry, but in terms of "could have happened / might happen", I give the award to "The Man in the High Castle". It will take a global infrastructure and major calamity -- or Donald Trump -- to destroy American society, not some bearded thirty-somethings with an agenda against the Man.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
  20. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Punk Premium Member

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    Hipsters? Yeah, not sure they were hipsters whipping out some microbrews.
     
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