The Handmaid’s tale – Episode 1 – 3: The new normal

“Ordinary is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.” – Aunt Lydia

I have been watching this very slowly. It’s not a show that’s meant to be binged and I’m having a hard time recommending it to anyone to watch even though everyone should watch it.

Handmaid's Tale TV

If you haven’t heard of it, the Handmaid’s Tale is about a dystopian future not so far away from now. The government in the US has shut down and the religious right has taken over and relegated women to second class citizens. Women are divided into three categories, Martha’s are infertile women who do not qualify for the high status of Wives and so work in domestic roles. Handmaids – fertile women who are chosen to bear children for the elite classes and Aunts who are women assigned to indoctrinate the Handmaids with the beliefs of the new society and make them accept their fates. Do you see how that could be too close for comfort right now? They just made abortion a crime in the state I live in. The votes for the bill were almost all men.

There is a rhythm to this show, each episode alternates between physical and emotional violence. So if you have a weak constitution, it’s not for you. Everyone in The Handmaid’s Tale delivers a powerhouse performance – no-one does much talking but every facial gesture and movement is a deliberate choice – no-one’s being delivered lines in an earpiece. If you get to episode 3, follow Ofglen’s face if you can bear to.

And even though, it is so fantastic, I have to make myself sit through it. It is extremely difficult to sit through, I would imagine that it would be worse for parents – mothers and children are routinely separated in this show. The separation of mothers and children is something I can still contemplate on a theoretical level.

So the question is, why do I continue to watch this (and my husband asks this too, I tend to not be able to speak for a while after I’ve finished an episode), it’s a warning shot in the dark – if you take for granted your rights, one day your rights just may not be there anymore. You have to remind yourself that a future like the one pictured here, is not as unlikely as we think it is if we continue to be complacent.

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