Imagine that you live in a world on which a really dangerous disease falls. Much more dangerous than the one that has terrified a large part of the world's population for several years. Its symptom is a drastic decrease in fertility among women. Technology and medicine cannot solve this problem, so fertility is becoming as important a commodity as oil and other such commodities. As can be easily deduced, this will cause wars (or at least exacerbate border situations) and increase tensions between people. Now imagine if the majority of your country's citizens vote for religious lunatics who previously enjoyed little or no support of a few percent or less. Not those who scare us on TV (I mean Republicans in the American conditions and the currently ruling party in the realities of Poland), but real madmen who will really introduce all the changes they declare. You will not be able to do anything, because they will manage to take over the army, the police, the courts, officials, secret services, technology, generally all or a key part of it, the arsenal of terror and coercion that the state has at its disposal. They will be able to change the law freely overnight, they will not have to limit themselves anymore, because they will have well-established political power, they will control the media, and any objection will end with severe mutilation (cutting the clitoris or penis ends in men, blindness, cutting off the arm) , death or other, no less painful punishment. Women will be reduced to incubators, whose only job is to sit at home and be a good housewife (if you're lucky), and work is banned under penalty. Are you a doctor? Lecturer at the university? Do you work in any job that is purportedly only for men? Well, you don't work anymore - that's all, they'll consider you a witch and throw you out of the country.
An even worse fate will meet homosexuals, bisexuals, because, as radicals believe - liberal consent to this type of "deviation" is one of the reasons for social corruption and one of the sins for which God has plagued us. When their less radical supporters finally stop laughing, "hehe, it's nice, but the left side hurts the ass", the authorities will take the next step (ok, in the series it did not look like that - they introduced these changes more or less simultaneously, but I do not want to spoil the narrative ... Oops, I broke it already) - it will pick up all the gadgets they think are unnecessary. And that's even more severely than the Chinese communist regime. Say goodbye to mobile phones, social media, the Internet, TV, radio, computer games, and even music, books, art, which radicals consider too obscene and provoke sin. As for sex, they did not forbid it, but they introduced such restrictions that you don't want to make love. It looks like Orthodox Jews - only for procreation. No orgasms, no eroticism, only one position, if you do something wrong or sin with lust for a woman, you will lose your hand. The technology will be preserved, but only for the needs of the military, medicine and other necessary institutions. Generally, welcome is a modern communism, but implemented in full swing at the request of citizens. About this, among others is this show. Besides, it shows the real motherfuckin patriarchy with religion in the background, which shocked me many times during the screening.
Sounds harsh? Take it easy, there's more to it - I just wrote about some of the points. I have already described the plot to a large extent in the introduction, maybe I will develop it in a further review. "The Handmaid's Tale" is primarily a series for women and an adaptation of a book by Margaret Atwood. Men can watch it too and shouldn't be bored, but the main target audience is female. This statement may sound sexist if you have progressive views, but this is one of the few interesting series intended for ladies (or at least I see it that way, if I'm wrong and I'm ignorant, I'd love to hear from you examples proving my mistake). Ie. we have a very extensive story that touches on many different aspects on various levels. Psychology, sociology, sexuality and what harms may result from it (e.g. such equivalents of PTSD after repeated rapes, and then taking their children away from them, who will go to selected, carefully selected families), the impact of totalitarian power on people, their behavior, habits, conversations , interests, way of being. Developing a thought that I started a bit earlier - I do not want to be ignorant, but many series or books intended for women (at least those I know, and I do not belong to people who are poorly acquainted with them), focuses primarily on on emotions. Often their script is not very elaborate, and even if you can say that they are multi-threaded, in my opinion they are simplified in relation to works intended for a male audience. Malicious people would say, for example, some right-wing politicians referring to the male mob, that this is due to an average lower IQ of women. However, this is not true, I think it is "due" to the fact that usually such productions are created by men or inexperienced authors who are either too inexperienced or too weak to do it well. Consequently, women are not very interested in them. It's just that such things are not interesting for women and I am often not surprised by them - many things are presented quite shallow and too simple, and women have different expectations about it. As art shows - be it comics, books, music - women can not only do something right, but also embarrass talented male creators by doing something better than they can. The best example that always comes to mind on such occasions is "Fullmetal Alchemist". Comic by Hiromu Arakawa, who IMO crushed all battle-shounens (manga like "Naruto", "Dragon Ball") on every field. I am talking about fights, characteristic and complex heroes, brutality. To make things worse, many male authors are also lousy on this point, which we often ignore because we get what we know and like to watch. Besides, we have a greater tolerance for this type of crap (as well as women who forgive a lot of weaknesses for cheap romantic movies, series or books), because that's what "tigers like best".
It resembles "Orange is the New Black" in many respects. Both series show women in a difficult place where they have limited options for action. In both works, we have a wide range of their characters and personalities, although due to the plot limitations, i.e. the ubiquitous totalitarian system, it is not visible at the beginning and only with time we will notice more shades of the same colors and small nuances that distinguish them. Both works are dominated by female protagonists, while male characters also appear, but their role is important only in some fragments. Apart from them, they are of little importance, their task can be compared to the role of the opponent of the main character in an action movie or a super-hero - they are to create new challenges for the protagonist (in this case - the heroines) and make the scenario more dynamic. Women are in the foreground, we delve into their dilemmas, problems that they would definitely encounter (sometimes those that are invisible at least to a part of the male population), we generally see everything from the perspective of women - reality. This is also evident in the selection of music and other aspects that I am not able to explain in detail.
I don't think any series has drawn my girlfriend as much as this story has. Yes, there was "Queen's Gambit" and some others before, but we haven't commented on any of them with that frequency yet. We often talked during the screening or interrupted bing-watching to comment or discuss certain topics. I explained some topics about politics or the army (she is not very interested in them, even doesn't like them, and I am a political scientist + I have been interested in these topics for many years), and on the other hand, Asia explained to me elements directly related to women, which I do not I understood or did not notice because of my male's limited perception and ignorance of female matters. "The Handmaid's Tale" perfectly portrays the totalitarian system - it very well exposes its façade, artificial relationships between people, their suffering (it is visible to everyone, even the most ignorant, and to those more empathetic viewers, that is, the one that cannot be expressed beyond the meaningful silence, or emotions and facial expressions that make our eyes and ears ache, even though we feel or see only screaming eyes, a shaky soul, or facial expressions). Citizens of this country, even if they initially wanted such a system (which has its justification to some extent, I will develop this idea in another text), with time they see more and more its evil and the worst things that it draws from people - such as, for example, real communism, which the elders of my part of the world have come to know so well. However, it is too late to change and they must absolutely comply. Consequently - their conversations are short, artificial, insincere, often limited to carefully selected words, so as not to give reasons for denouncing the internal services, which will convict us of a thought crime. The photos perfectly show the ubiquitous influence of Big Brother, the limited possibilities of his slaves and the demonic nature of this system. I felt as if I was watching a series made by experienced directors of the Polish film school, who mastered the presentation of the communist system to a master level, and at the same time feel like a fish in the water when it comes to creating in accordance with Western standards. The difference is only in the budget and the opportunities that are rarely available to Polish filmmakers (apart from Władysław Pasikowski, who is probably the best Polish director from our mainstream cinema, and certainly one of the best and most experienced when it comes to cinema entertainment with a decent script).
The main role is played by Elisabeth Moss - the actress known from the remake of "The Invisible Man", "Us", I do not know other productions that I see on IMDB with her participation. I've only seen this 1 movie with her. She is an experienced actress with great talent. I would compare her to Sigourney Weaver and other actresses who do not need corporate embarrassment saying on social media that she is "a strong woman with a tough character" because she is unable to defend her skills herself. She is a tough woman who can endure more suffering than men, uses all the attributes that women often outperform men (cleverness, persuasion, emotional intelligence, etc.). Instead of solving problems with muscles or violence, he does it with intrigue, intelligence, determination to survive the worst moments - i.e. winning by strength of character. Which, of course, doesn't mean June is a humble, non-violent lady. When she gets pissed off and has the opportunity to vent her emotions, we see a genuinely pissed off bitch who is almost full of emotions. She literally pukes all frustration, anger, despair out of himself and exudes these emotions. More often, however, she must have her mouth closed by four triggers, thus limiting herself to expressing her emotions with the help of lockjaw, fierce fire in her eyes or tense facial muscles. She also spies quite often, but that shouldn't come as a surprise, given her situation and that of other women. Regardless of the form in which we see it, it shows first-class acting and I hope that I will see it more often in popular productions, because it feels great in them. As for the rest of the actresses, I don't want to write about them. Part of this is because of my laziness, but I don't want to reveal too much in the first place. I already wrote a bit too much and took away some of the fun, and it would be difficult for me to write anything of value without going into the details. I can say, however, that each actress did her job well and none of them caused me a feeling of embarrassment. Yes, some ladies are stupid, and I've seen some criticisms of them in a few places, but ... How many idiots are there in TV shows designed for men? Many. And they evoke similar feelings in me. Certainly I cannot say that they were poorly drawn or developed, as in some series (eg "Banshee", where I criticized a few of them - this text will be posted on the blog soon).
All in all, it's a great series that never goes below a certain level for 4 seasons. Yes, some episodes can be chaotic or boring, but in my opinion those flaws disappear under the pile of good aspects. We enjoyed watching all the episodes so far and look forward to the sequel, which we will probably see in 2022 or 2023. We haven't seen the final episode at the moment, but if it holds the level of the penultimate one, we shouldn't be disappointed. I rate it 9/10 and recommend it to anyone regardless of gender. It is worth watching it and thinking about it, because in the future we may face a similar totalitarianism, but in a left-wing version.