By Dave B.
If you haven’t seen The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), it’s likely that you’ve heard some things about it. It’s a TV show that graphically depicts a dystopian world where human fertility has plummeted, enabling a theocracy to take over the majority of what was once the continental United States. In this new country (called Gilead), women who have previously borne children are ritually raped by the political elite (with the assistance of their wives) in order to have children. Further, all women are subject to social control in the form of various biblical and quasi-biblical strictures and punishments. For example, women are not allowed to read and they do, their punishment is the loss of a finger.
I’m not entirely certain that I like The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s one of those shows that has a “but” attached to every compliment that one could give it: Elizabeth Moss is great as Offred, BUT Offred is a terribly annoying character. The story of how Gilead came to be is interesting, BUT the show doesn’t delve into it enough. Finding out about the background of characters is important, BUT the flashbacks often mess up the pacing of the show and slow the already glacial plot development. And most egregiously: I want Offred to escape and be happy, BUT I don’t really care anymore because a third season of her almost getting free and her questionable would be beyond infuriating.
The Handmaid’s Tale does a good job of stimulating very visceral, emotional reactions in viewers. But let me ask you this: Has the plot really advanced much since the first several episodes of the first season? Have the circumstances of the major characters really changed much at all? Despite some interesting and compelling one-off events that aren’t central to the story, at its core, Season Two keeps the show in stasis and that’s fundamentally boring. Despite the interesting concepts and observations that can come from watching the show (such as Season Two’s recurring theme that women are integral to the oppression of other women in Gilead), I don’t feel as if the show has done much more than repeat itself over the course of two seasons.
I marginally recommend The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 2. But its casual brutality wears thin this season and will become unbearable in the next one if the plot doesn’t actually advance or evolve in some way. At this point, The Handmaid’s Tale is a great concept matched with good performances and some shocking events, but it also has very little to say that it hasn’t already said.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.