The Handmaid’s Tale is now officially on Hulu. The adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel makes George Orwell’s 1984 look like a fantasy utopia. The Ministry of Love might kill you and the Ministry of Truth will lie to you, but Oceania never built an entire country around government-sanctioned rape.
Which is exactly what Gilead, the newly christened country in the Northeast of what remains of the United Staes of America, does in The Handmaid’s Tale. Due to unknown reasons — but blamed on pollution and birth control — the birth rate in Atwood’s world has plummeted. Taking advantage of this crisis, fundamentalist evangelicals poured their poison into the ears of Americans. God is unhappy and is punishing us for our worldly ways. A return to “traditional values” will fix everything. The poison is a slow drip that begins with removing women from public spheres and ends with fertile women being stripped of their humanity to be used as literal wombs by the men who owned them in order to give babies to the elite women.
This is not a show meant for binge-watching. The themes are heavy and tone oppressive. Each scene ratchets up the tension as everyone tiptoes around the tightening noose of Puritanical rules run amok. At one point Offred (Elisabeth Moss) says she needs to scream but can’t, and there will be moments in watching The Handmaid’s Tale that the primal need to scream in the face of the indignities suffered by the Handmaids, the Marthas, the Wives, and even the men will bubble up in your throat.
To that end, the marketing team for The Handmaid’s Tale is leaning in on the tyrannical current that presses down on the necks of Gilead’s denizens like boot. These nine images accurately capture the terror and helplessness of those being swept away by the tide of monstrous moral righteousness.