The Handmaid's Tale Makes Arrival

27 April 2017, 02:24 | Santos Harmon

Maarten de Boer Contour by Getty Images for TV Guide Magazine

Maarten de Boer  Contour by Getty Images for TV Guide Magazine

"The Handmaid's Tale" will premiere exclusively on Hulu April 26.

A pithy bit of dialogue, for sure, but a flawless arrow right into the heart of these first three installments of this new series. Then, with astonishing swiftness, we see women stripped of their independence, and any resistance violently squashed. (Hulu made the first three episodes available for review). "This is an alternative world, but it lives in the present". "So many things are forbidden now", she intones in nearly hypnotic fashion, not knowing whom she can trust or what will land her in trouble. Meanwhile, actress Alexis Bledel talked about her challenging role as Ofglen in a recent interview. In her case, though, it is her sexual agency that is quite literally ripped from her. But as a typical woman, her inner monologue is sharp and unrelenting.

Ann Dowd plays Aunt Lydia and when she speaks about the character, from her perspective, she loves these girls.

In the tale, a Christian fundamentalist group has overthrown the US government and created a class of women called handmaids, who must bear children for prominent men because of declining birth rates from pollution and STDs. It's as though she goes from having an outward, physical defense mechanism, to an internal one as the story progresses.

And it couldn't have come at a better time. Elsewhere, Ofglen was caught having an affair with another woman and sentenced to "redemption", which is code for having to watch her lover die, followed by female circumcision.

It's scary as it is, a dystopian not-so-distant future, in a place called Gilead which used to be part of the US. But for Samira Wiley, who plays Moira on the show, the message of the show is clear. Her bliss at the sight and smell of her newborn baby.

In addition to being drawn to the part because of her family's love of the story, Brewer was eager to work with "an wonderful cast and just a very talented group of people attached to it at every level". What, then, does Offred want? Handmaids are always to travel in twos, Offred explains to us, not for their own protection but so the women can keep an eye on one another. The timid handmaid accepts it, taking a bite, but later spits it out into the sink. After a decades-long career, the 34-year-old is finally getting the praise she deserves. For the briefest of moments, she pulls the hem of her dress up a little higher before lowering it down again, her eyes locked on Nick's.

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She does a sort of thing that often prisoners will do, which is, they have to adapt to the prison environment, and they have to hold their enemies closer than their friends.

This is the story of how she intends to survive.

"I think people are feeling like they can relate to it, which is unfortunate".

"It needed to be ballsy", Moss told the Independent of her role. By the end of the third episode, Offred has crushed Serena Joy's hopes of being pregnant, leading to her being locked in her room as punishment.

Miller added, "She's such a fascinating character because from the outside it looks like she's nearly a committed bubblehead". It has the slow, creeping dread of a horror movie, made all the more disquieting by the blood-red cloaks and the insistent and ominous score that pulses throughout. An odd turn of phrase, considering the circumstances. What emerges, though, is a perfectly creepy drama that plays like the series version of a "Black Mirror" episode. Miller and director Reed Morano perfectly encapsulate the claustrophobic, dream-like nature of Atwood's book. "We're saying it's sad if people are apolitical these days". And many of our department heads, our wardrobe and production designer. Trouble is, when they do offer those shots up, it's a almost destroyed church or the bodies of criminals hanging from a wall. That's where The Handmaid's Tale really gets under your skin.

Robert Ham is an arts and culture journalist based in Portland, OR.

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