April 2021 Volume 4, Issue 6
“The Handmaid’s Tale”, a novel written by Margaret Atwood and first published in 1985, is adapted beautifully in Hulu’s television series.
The story follows Offred, formerly June before the Republic of Gilead took away the birth names of the women who’ve become handmaids and are subjected to forced surrogacy for the baron wives of high-ranking government “commanders”.
Hulu’s series deviates very little from the book, though the second season and forward pick up after the events written in the book. The entire series seems to expand on small ideas contained in the book and really fills out the world in a way that feels both fantastical, unimaginable, yet realistic.
The sequel to Atwood’s book, entitled “The Testaments”, was released in 2019 and takes place fifteen years after the events of the first book and also includes story elements and characters first introduced in Hulu’s series.
Atwood has a consulting producer credit for the Hulu series and has been quoted many times, saying that nothing went into the original story that hadn’t happened in some way in reality. That same rule has been applied to the Hulu series.
The cast of the series expertly bring to life the complexities of the characters and give them a rounded and realistic portrayal that oftentimes extend beyond what can be learned of the characters from the book, given the space that a serial format allows.
The cinematography, the costume design, and overall acting are of superb quality. While the series does go beyond the scope of the book and there are a few changes, there is a definite respect for the original work.
Plot points that first appeared in the Hulu series have been brought into Atwood’s sequel. Offred’s second daughter (who doesn’t appear in the first book) is a major character in “The Testaments” and the development of other characters in the series have been expanded upon within the book.
Elizabeth Moss plays Offred and has had a hand in directing an the upcoming season. Moss is one of the many standouts in the series along with Ann Dowd, who portrays Aunt Lydia, one of the female enforcers of the Gilead regime.
Trailers for the fourth season suggest that the series will move into an increasingly revolutionary theme which seems to set up the opportunity to fill in the gaps between the events of the first and second books.
Three new episodes drop Wednesday, April 28 on Hulu, and new episodes released on Wednesdays.