The Handmaids Tale

I know @akritenbrink mentioned this show in her hulu discussion but I want to know if anyone is planning on watching this or if it's a show that will possibly get covered?

I'm also annoyed that I've never heard the premise of this story until I looked it up, apparently this and 1984 are selling out at local D.C. Bookstores (according to WaPo). Should I make sure to read the book before this show comes out? Has anyone else read it and enjoyed it?


  • I just got finished listening to the audio book version and it was really good. Definitely looking forward to the Hulu show.

    I'm not sure how closely the show is going to follow the book so I can't imagine it will hurt to read it.

    I did notice in the promo Elizabeth Moss mentions her characters name which goes against a theme in the book that women are so valueless as human beings other than bearing children.

    I am looking forward to seeing how they treat the book. 
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    Definitely read the book.  I may re-read the book- it's been a couple of decades since I read it. 

    I am looking forward to the show! I hope Hulu makes it as quality as it needs to be. So far the clips I've seen, and the cast I've seen, indicate it could be a great show. I haven't subscribed to Hulu for a long time but made up my mind to re-up for this.
  • ElisaElisa Los Angeles
    Can't wait to see the show. I have not read the book but heard good things.
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    So the premise of the book is basically that an authoritarian government has taken over and they control much of society, and things are especially bad for women. There's a line in the book, which was written in 1985, which gave me chills when I read it, which was sometime right after 9/11, which said that they used Muslim extremism as a pretext for the changes they made and the shocking level of control they asserted. For one thing, in 1985 not a lot of Americans were concerned about Muslim extremism- Communism was seen as the huge threat. I can't speak for Canadians (Atwood is Canadian) but I would assume the same.  Reading it right after 9/11 was totally coincidental; I just happened to pick up the book at that time, but there was a lot of uneasiness around balancing personal freedom and rights with national security at that time. And that was a time where the internet was there and a lot of people were using it, and there were forums, news sites etc., but it was pre-social media, so we didn't always hear or discuss as much as we do now or really know all the daily details. I mean I listened to NPR and read news and stuff but it wasn't the same as now with this instantaneous news cycle and having so many ways to discuss things easily with people. Having the show coming out in the first months of the Trump administration is timing Hulu couldn't have possibly planned but will be a really interesting context.

    Side note: It doesn't sound like the Bald Move guys are planning to podcast about this; if anyone runs across a great podcast about this when it comes out can you please drop it here? 
  • I just read this book last year and loved it. I am interested in checking the show out, but there's so much I in my queue, I don't know when I'll get to it.
  • aberry89aberry89 California
    I've heard about this book for a while (or is it a series?) and am really excited for the show. Will definitely be watching. i don't think I have seen any Hulu exclusive shows yet...

    Can't decide if I want to read the book before or after - probably wont have time till it starts. 
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    It's just one book. 
  • I highly recommend the audiobook. The narration by Clare Danes along with the story make it one of my favourite audiobooks.
  • Kela15Kela15 Malta, Europe
    edited February 2017
    This is such a good read and now an urgent wake-up call since it (very possibly) describes things to come. I am very much looking forward to this show. I miss Elisabeth Moss too, so yeay!
  • early reviews are very, very encouraging! 
  • @akritenbrink the humans over at No Ship are doing a pod on it. I haven't listened to their intro/preview cast yet but it is out and up on the site. Check it out if you want.
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    It looks like some of the Bald Move affiliates are doing a podcast on this. 

    I don't know why it says "Up Yours, Downstairs" on top but the description is about the Handmaid's Tale.
  • ElisaElisa Los Angeles
    I wonder if Up Your Downstairs will cover The White Princess on Starz too?
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    What is this Up Yours Downstairs or whatever? I've never paid any attention to anything on this site that's not J+A. And I don't pay attention to like 80% of that lol
  • ElisaElisa Los Angeles
    They are a podcast affiliated with bald move.
  • pavlovsbellpavlovsbell Brooklyn, NY
    @akritenbrink UYD is a podcast hosted by Kelly and Tom. They specialize in British shows and films. They started with Downton Abbey and have covered everything from Upstairs, Downstairs to The Crown. I don't watch many of the shows that they cover, but I still listen to them sometimes because I really enjoy them.

    Kelly is covering The Handmaid's Tale with a (female) friend. 
  • @akritenbrink UYD is a podcast hosted by Kelly and Tom. They specialize in British shows and films. They started with Downton Abbey and have covered everything from Upstairs, Downstairs to The Crown. I don't watch many of the shows that they cover, but I still listen to them sometimes because I really enjoy them.

    Kelly is covering The Handmaid's Tale with a (female) friend. 
    I listened to the intro cast, and from what I can tell they're both smart (and funny) ladies. I'll be listening when I watch the show.
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    Ah OK, interesting. I kind of have settled on not wanting to listen to any podcasts about The Handmaid's Tale because I feel like it might be a very personal experience- not that I have had that experience obviously but it seems like the type of show I want to kind of mull over alone for a while. But who knows.
  • aberry89aberry89 California
    edited April 2017
    This is an interesting interview about the upcoming show and changes it's purposely making from the book. Discussion is about how women of color were initially sidelined in the novel, but need, and are to be present in the show. As black women experienced most of what the women in Handmaid's Tale suffer under in America's history, it's really important they are a part of the story now that's being told in 2017. However,  still gotta make the main character a white woman though....hmmm. - I will hold my judgment till I see it in it's entirety to be fair though.

  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    I haven't listened to your link but it might be worth noting that Margaret Atwood is Canadian, not American.
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    edited April 2017
    Listened to the podcast. Some perspectives of mine to be aware of.
    • I don't like using current cultural mores to analyze literature from previous generations. It drove me nuts when people my age did it in college and grad school and it drives me nuts now when millenials do it. I'm aware it's common in the sort of pop culture sphere and sometimes even an accepted mode of analysis in academia; I just don't like it.
    • I don't like when people take literature too literally.
    • I don't like Mallory Ortberg either 
    • And I don't like it when people make fun of pussyhats lol
    Also- I am arguing with these ladies on the podcast, not with you @aberry89 :) It's just an intellectual argument and nothing personal. :) 

    The podcasters ask "why The Handmaid's Tale?" when there are other dystopian novels out there. The reason a lot of people are reading the Handmaid's Tale right now, IMO, is as simple as this- the Hulu show is coming out, getting a lot of press and it strikes a chord with people right now because women are really afraid of oppression. If someone had made a TV show of one of the other books that are "better," those might be bestsellers on Amazon right now.  But maybe not, because the Handmaid's Tale is a really, really good book. And the fact that these hosts were dismissive of it but then went into a discussion of Star Wars and Star Trek kind of makes me wonder if they just aren't the audience for this book or TV show.

    I don't think a lot of people remember, certainly I didn't remember until the podcast (ironically enough) reminded me that most of the black folks in Handmaid's Tale had been sent away because the new power structure in the book was white supremacist. What isn't mentioned at all in the podcast is some black women were in the novel; they were kept behind as servants. One thing to know - in the 80s people on the left were talking a lot about white supremacy in terms of both still feeling the aftereffects of, and fighting the battles of, the 60s civil rights movement, and in that discussion there were lots of echoes of the legacy of slavery and the sort of pseudo-enslavement of black people that followed for generations. There was also a worldwide discussion about white supremacy in terms of South Africa and apartheid.

    I probably don't remember that because it was so common to have a white supremacist boogeyman in that type of work back then. But like I said above, what I do remember that was unique is that Atwood, in the mid-80's, saw anti-Muslim hysteria coming (she attributes the rise of the authoritarian Christian state to anti-Muslim hysteria). To have Muslim extremism and anti-Muslim hysteria on your radar was pretty obscure and strangely prescient. Having white supremacy on your radar then was almost just reflexive and it really makes a lot of sense from a mid-80s point of view that the evil leaders who oppressed women were also white supremacists.

    So, overall I just find it puzzling that people would be mad that black folks were excluded from the book and not many are on the show, when black folks were excluded specifically from the book as a point to illustrate the white supremacy of the leaders of this dystopia. It's not like Atwood just forgot about black folks in some kind of white nearsightedness. I found this article, in which the showrunner states "what’s the difference between making a TV show about racists and making a racist TV show?" I would say simply- Make the racists the bad guys. :) And that's what happens in the book.

    Also- the idea that middle class white women have never been oppressed or have nothing to fear in an authoritarian evangelical regime - or in the Trump administration - is patently ridiculous. And I don't say that from some "whiteness is important" or "white people are oppressed" or a racist perspective or whatever. I understand the complexities of women of color finding their voices in the various waves of feminism, and how their roles and needs were different and often diminished because of their race, in terms of education, opportunity, work, and the daily persistent racism they experience, sometimes at the hands of white women.  I also know that, as the hosts mention,  lots of white women voted for Trump. 

    But that doesn't mean we all did, that we should be judged as a group, and it doesn't mean the ones who did vote for him won't get screwed over by his policies and that we all shouldn't care. We shouldn't just be worried about a backslide in society for the people we like or the people we agree with any  more than we should be worried just for people who are like us in terms of race, sexuality etc. I'm 100% for inclusion when it comes to race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexuality, etc etc etc. But I really hate the Oppression Olympics where we all try to figure out who has it worse like it is some kind of competition, and I hate when we all jump into our own boxes and shoot cannons over the walls at each other; it just seems like the opposite of inclusion and cooperation to me. 

    This kind of came out during the Women's March, with people saying it was a "white women's march" because so many white women were organizers and it was so much larger than other marches, namely Black Lives Matter. But it was a mainstream march, and in this country we do have a white majority, which usually shows at most mainstream events. I read and heard a lot of critiques from women of color after the march that said they purposely steered clear of it, but I didn't really hear much evidence that the organizers intended it to be that way, more that it was self-selecting. I do understand some of the reasons given for this but it doesn't make the Women's March a racist march. I also saw a lot of representation on the stage at the march in DC. So I don't know what to make of that argument.

    Anyway, no one book can please everyone and I am just going on a long rant because these are all topics that strike a nerve with me. Also, I was an English major and sometimes I just accidentally write long analytical replies to internet comments. LOL
  • ElisaElisa Los Angeles
    No ship network is also doing a podcast. Thanks for the tip on Up Your Downstairs- I will definitely check it out. A lot of good discussion so far what I can see from the board here.
  • @akritenbrink Thanks for making those points. I do have a bit of a different opinion of the podcast I listened to now and may want to try reading the book before I even get into the show, for a more serious take. I also understand that as the author is Canadian, she may have a different than expected take on how race plays into her book (it sounds like she addressed it in a specific way but not everyone liked it).

    However, as a (young) woman of color I'm a bit confused at the "Oppression Olympics" you mentioned. I find that term is usually used by those that may be oppressed in other ways but tend to have the trump (no pun intended) card in passing through society based on skin color (white women, white gay men, etc.). Personally, I don't think it's an attitude that white women have nothing to fear in an authoritarian evangelical regime, or in the Trump administration. It's more of a "We've been living in a dystopian reality. This is how it's always been for us, and we're exhausted." Our brothers, sons, and even sisters are killed by the police with impunity. Those same family members have been incarcerated at much higher rates than their white counterparts for the same crimes, and have much longer sentences. Even if we do make it to a higher economic status, it's very likely that our children will slide back to where we started. When we do everything right, owning a home still means less for us. 

    Many of us lost hope long ago, or came in to this world with none, and it can be difficult to try and deal with the newfound panic of everyone else (white women, gay people, even immigrants) who just realized how bad it can be when we're already here - especially when there was no real desire or push for change until it affected all these other groups. Privilege is not about living a life free from strife, it's about not having that strife exacerbated by belonging to a marginalized population. 

    As a final note, calls for "unity" and "cooperation" can tend to be dogwhistles for "pipe down - can't you see the important work we're doing here?" and tend to come at the expense of black women, or other more marginalized populations. Black men also do this to us (because we should be black first) and white women (but can't you see we're fighting for all women?) when we want to address the unique challenges we face. It's the same reason some of us don't like pussy hats. They center womanhood on that sexual organ and ignore the fact that there are transwomen (yes they are women) that may not have a "pussy" or uterus. If you were a woman that couldn't have children you wouldn't say womanhood should be based on your ability to give birth, either. But if we don't toe the party line, then we must not be in it for real. 

    I think that true inclusion is much different than conforming to someone's idea of what a movement should be, and involves valid criticism when things seem to be going sideways. Rather than coming to some sort of #NotAllWhiteWomen defensive posture, it may be more helpful to digest valid critiques, not center yourself in them or take them personally, and wield them the next time you see or talk to friends/family that may be Trump supporters. Because the fact is, a lot of white women voted for Trump. And if they did, they sure as hell aren't going to be listening to a black person or immigrant telling them why that was a bad idea for their own well being. But they might listen to you. 
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    edited April 2017
    They didn't listen to me. I tried. They've never listened to me on these topics. Why start now? And I disengaged with them after a while because it got painful and they got aggressive.

    All of the points you made are super valid, and I don't disagree with them. Understand I'm also not positioning myself behind a hashtag. That's not how I talk or think. But I do feel that way sometimes, honestly. No one wants to be stereotyped by their race. And coming from a mostly white community you do have to actively seek out opportunities to learn about other races or you just never do. Oftentimes the "white" stereotypes are from a certain class perspective too, that I did not grow up being a part of. So sometimes if I'm in a situation with a lot of middle class folks I'm sitting with the people of color cause I don't get the white folks either lol

    But I'm not sure the points you made relate to this Handmaid's Tale situation. When you talk about a fictional novel, TV show or film, I think it's ok sometimes to build a world with characters that have a limited scope and point of view. Fiction is not a government program that has to be fair. It's like... When Girls came out, everyone was complaining.. Why aren't there more black characters? They said the same thing about Friends in the 90's. Well ... because those people live in an insular world and only have white friends. That's not that unusual for white people. You can critique that in the culture, but fiction rings the most true when it's real. You could even critique why Hannah et al or Monica et al didn't have black friends if you were doing that sort of analysis. And I also agree with critiques of Hollywood not putting out diverse enough content as a whole.

    But I don't think you need to focus group any one particular fictional story into being more diverse. I think the answer is filling time slots with more variety, like if you're an exec and you have both Girls and Master of None in front of you, you give them both a fair shake. I think it also lies in being open to art from people of all races that falls outside the stereotypes, like forever there only seemed to be a few genres of "black" stuff that got made (wacky comedies, gritty urban drama, slave movies etc) but this year we've seen some really new stuff like Atlanta, Moonlight and even Queen Sugar to a certain extent.

    At the end of the day, the story is the story. I suppose the evil tyrants in the tv show aren't white supremacists any more if one of their breeders is black. (does that mean one of the leaders is black, his wife is black or are they just color blind? Because these are supposed to be the wives' babies.) Adaptations always change things and as long as they do it thoroughly it could still make sense.
  • CarnivalArtsCarnivalArts New Orleans
    I can't wait to see this show. I re-upped on Hulu to see it. The book affected me deeply, and over the years I've been reminded of it in small ways many times by the everyday sexism we all live with. I found the movie with Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway unsatisfactory. The reviews I've read make me think they have expanded the story and provided a big enough budget to do it justice. As I said, can't wait to see it and to read what you all think. I'd love to hear what Cecily, Jim and A-Ron think.
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    I'm excited and nervous about it. 
  • ElisaElisa Los Angeles
    Right now I am watching Manhattan S2, Homeland S3, The Good Place S1 and soon The Handmaiden's Tale - all on Hulu. :)
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    Just watched what they have on Hulu- 3 episodes. Wow. Damn.
  • How the eps being released?
  • I just watched the first 3 episodes. So far, this is already in my top five favorite shows I've watched on TV in 2017. Absolutely love what they've done so far. 
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