In the midst of Trump administration and the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein scandal, the dystopian future of The Handmaid’s tale is perhaps not so far from reality.
The acclaimed TV Series The Handmaid’s tale is one of the most popular things to watch and to talk about at the moment. The merit undoubtedly goes to the stunning production of Bruce Miller and the fact that it was based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel. Still, the possibility of drawing lines with Trump administration and #MeToo movement has a lot to do with the popularity of the show.
The fact that the show was released just a couple of months after Trump election is just a coincidence, said Bruce Miller to The Hollywood Reporter: “It was horrible for the world but great for me.” If electing Trump was a step backwards for American society in many ways, releasing this show in that very moment certainly helped in measuring the weight of the consequences. Namely, it resulted in abundance of comparisons between the show and the current state in the US. If we add the parallels made with the #MeToo movement on the top of that, there is definitely more than one good thing about the show.
The oppressive and totalitarian policies of fictional Gilead being justified by the traditional values easily evoke many current affairs. The leaders in the Handmaid’s tale also set the aim to make America great again. They execute their plan by reminding women of their only true purpose – giving birth. Defending traditional ‘family’ values and misinterpreting the Bible gives them a valid excuse to do so. After watching some of Roy Moore’s speeches where he puts corruption, immorality, abortion, and sodomy in the same pack, or claims that homosexual conduct should be illegal, we can easily imagine Commander Waterford inviting him to his house for a cup of tea. What is more worrying is that the Commander and the president also have some traits in common. The mismatch between Commander Waterford’s official role of a family man and his secret activities raises questions about theory and practice of the president. The Access Hollywood tape certainly rings the bell.
But ‘Commander Waterfords’ are not only in the government. They seem to be all around Hollywood, directing our favorite films and starring in our favorite shows. Besides, most of us know some Commander Waterfords that remained unpunished for their wrongdoings for a long time or even until this day. And suddenly the world of the Handmaid’s tale where men are predators and women are completely helpless doesn’t seem like fiction anymore. Seeing the miserable situation of handmaids that were once women who had rights should remind us that human rights can be taken away if we are governed by wrong people.
Seeing the act of rape as a part of a daily routine comes as shocking at first. The more we watch, the more it becomes a ‘normal’ part of handmaid’s life. Even if some handmaids get used to it and learn to appreciate their masters, they are not supposed to. Same goes for the public opinion: seeing so many open letters and accusations of sexual harassment is not supposed to make us look on it lightheartedly.
In line with the #MeToo movement, the main engine of resistance in the show is the mutual support. Hearing other women’s stories makes it easier to share their own and to make a change. The show also implies that women can’t be alone in this fight; the character of Nick who sympathizes but does not do much to help is also a call for witnesses to speak out, even if their job is at stake. Therefore, we are all in charge of tracking the Commanders down. In other words, as Offred once said, “Please don’t be sorry! Please do something!”