Screen Scene -The Handmaid’s Tale: A Winning Formula

I often ponder what it is that makes a series stand out. Is it the cast? The director? The plot? Regardless of the formula, one thing is clear: it is a rarity to find a show that encapsulates all the elements to make it a success. This month’s viewing recommendation – The Handmaid’s Tale – is a series that has found that formula, season after season.

The Handmaid’s Tale, now in its fifth season, is a masterclass in filmmaking. From the cinematography to the talented cast, the show has won award after award, and it’s easy to see why. Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 best-selling book of the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the near-future totalitarian society known as Gilead (formerly the U.S.). Gilead is a theonomous state, governed through a patriarchal rule, organized by power-ravenous leaders who treat women as property. Faced with a declining birthrate due to environmental disasters and disease, the totalitarian leaders force all fertile “fallen women” into roles as handmaidens – natal slaves who bear children for the elite commanders of Gilead.

Emmy-winner Elisabeth Moss stars as Offred, a handmaiden assigned to Commander Fred Waterford and his wife Serena Joy – two elites who aided in the formation of Gilead. Before Offred was captured and forced into servitude, she was married and had a child. During her attempted escape from Gilead she was separated from her husband Luke, and her child was given to a wealthy family of Gilead. Much of the series focuses on Offred’s desire to be reunited with her family and escape the horrors of life with the Waterfords while showcasing her transition from a broken woman into a powerful ally to the ever-growing revolution against Gilead.

It’s difficult to fully describe the power of this series; it’s an emotional rollercoaster full of devastating plotlines and horrors eerily close to today’s news cycle. Many parallels have been drawn between The Handmaid’s Tale and the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade in the U.S. To be completely transparent, this is not a feel-good show, but it is powerful and important, and a form of art. This is also not a show to binge-watch: much like a piece of art, I recommend taking your time to explore the series and digest the plot. You can watch seasons one through four of The Handmaid’s Tale via Crave in Canada; season five is currently streaming.

Interested in other series to cozy up to this winter? Check out the below recommendations for your queue.
1) Call the Midwife
2) Bridgerton
3) Fleabag
4) Killing Eve

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