The Handmaid's Tale Historical Notes (BOOK and POTENTIAL TV SPOILER AHEAD)

I was just wondering, for anyone who's read the book, if the tv show will eventually end with the historical notes section of the book? I know it would most likely be handled differently, as we are seeing more points of view in the show, but I love that section of the book where we find out that Gilead was not a lasting period of human history and that eventually a more equal society was restored. I think it would be interesting if they eventually went there. I also love how that last section reframes everything we have read in that it reveals that we've basically read a transcription of audio tapes that were recovered in some trunk somewhere and the historians have dubbed the tapes, "The Handmaid's Tale" and debate over the authenticity of Offred's account. 

I wonder if knowledge of that section of the book would change the way people are discussing it in the tv show thread proper. 

I already loved the book, but the addition of this section really enhanced it for me and I think it would be cool if the tv show incorporates this section of the book. Does anyone one know if this is just a one-off or if they plan on doing multiple seasons?

Comments

  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited May 3
    "I wonder if knowledge of that section of the book would change the way people are discussing it in the tv show thread proper."

    Yeah, I think that'd be food for my arguments about how there's not much to be alarmist about. (And now I can just stop arguing this side.) I said this on that thread, but it's been a while since I read the book and I'd forgotten this section. Good to know.

    I kind of... think the TV show is wanting to scare us as much as possible? I don't think they're gonna soften up on the horror.
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    I know about that section of the book, but I don't get the argument that if it's not forever, it's not something to be alarmed about. I guess just a few generations of forced rape are no biggie? lol
    BourbonQueen
    Be a human, not a machine.

    Angie Kritenbrink
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  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    You are free to be alarmed about whatever you want. :)
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited May 3
    Does anyone one know if this is just a one-off or if they plan on doing multiple seasons?

    @DaveyMacIt's been renewed. I have no idea what they're going to do there, and I don't know if I'll be interested unless they're cutting Offred's book story in half. If not, maybe she'll join the resistance or something? (Or did she die in the end? Can't remember. They can change that if so.) 

    This show reminds me so much of House of Cards, which, if it were drawn out week to week, I don't think I'd like nearly as much as I do. There's a nice "fun" quality to House of Cards when you can take it in quickly which I think would benefit The Handmaid's Tale. I certainly read the book very quickly. And speed distracts you from implausibilities. Then again, maybe the show is more dull to me because I'm not in suspense about where the danger is lurking and who the allies are.

    I always keep an open mind with 2nd seasons, but I confess it's more of a conscious effort here.

    What's interesting to me is the politicization of the show. I've observed it being used by SJWs and such to browbeat conservatives. I fucking used it that way last week. Is this like an Atlas Shrugged for progressive liberals? I dislike watching things that only affirm my beliefs -- although I guess I should say only when I'm keenly aware that it's affirming my beliefs. It's becoming more than a story, and that's a shame to someone like me who loves a good story. But I guess a lot of people think there's some cause to sacrifice entertainment on the altar of progressivism with this one. And it's not like stories themselves are sacred. I don't know -- preliminary thoughts -- me wondering if by the time season 2 comes around I won't be in a state of mind to enjoy it. (Because I'm a flawed person who sucks at compartmentalizing.) 
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    Writing the book was a political act in some ways for Margaret Atwood, so I don't know why you're beating yourself up for politicizing it now. It's a political book and TV show and it has some timeliness in the current political climate. Maybe it's hard to enjoy for you because you have some kind of internal conflict about this?
    Be a human, not a machine.

    Angie Kritenbrink
    akritenbrink on most social media

  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo

    I know about that section of the book, but I don't get the argument that if it's not forever, it's not something to be alarmed about. I guess just a few generations of forced rape are no biggie? lol

    I wasn't trying to imply that because Gilead was temporary that it would be no big deal. It obviously would be terrifying and horrible. I was just curious about how the discussions may change were people aware of that meta part of the book.

    As to the implausibility or plausibility of things, I can see arguments both ways, but my gut tells me that unless we were faced with a situation where women suddenly couldn't have babies anymore, that this type of theocracy wouldn't be able to get any sort of traction. I kind of feel like that's one reason Atwood decided to create a world in which healthy babies were becoming a rare occurrence, so that a state like Gilead would have an infinitely better chance of finding traction.

    That's not to say that there aren't terrible possibilities in terms of reeling back civil rights and women's rights in today's modern era. There is some very scary stuff going on, but I just don't see a future as extreme as Gilead.

    I also realize, being a white dude who hasn't lived in the States for ten years, that I am not the best person to try to argue or debate these things, as I have a lot of distance from the realities of what's actually happening on the ground.

    Anyway, regardless of how plausible or implausible it is, I find it to be a damn compelling story. I was hooked from the first chapter and breezed through it. 
  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    JaimieT said:

    Does anyone one know if this is just a one-off or if they plan on doing multiple seasons?

    @DaveyMacIt's been renewed. I have no idea what they're going to do there, and I don't know if I'll be interested unless they're cutting Offred's book story in half. If not, maybe she'll join the resistance or something? (Or did she die in the end? Can't remember. They can change that if so.) 



    The book basically ends with a black van coming for Offred and Nick telling her to go with them as these "eyes" are actually part of the resistance and they will take her to safety. Offred is not sure if she can trust Nick, but she gets in the van and it drives off, her fate unclear. That's when it goes to the Historical Notes section of the book. In that section, I think I remember them saying that Offred's audio tapes were recovered in a trunk inside a bunker or something that was used as an underground railroad of sorts for the resistance, but the historians aren't sure of the veracity of the tapes. I think they are able to corroborate some parts of Offred's story, like the existence of Commander Warren, but not other parts. I'm actually a bit hazy on the details of that last section. I just remember really liking it.

    I suppose in the tv show they could just dispense with the future historians altogether and just carry on with Offred in the resistance rather than just ending it with her being carted off. 

    In any case, I do kind of wish this would be just a one-off season, as I would be worried that they might string it out for too long. Especially when the source material is so short. They are doing an excellent job so far, though, so maybe they can pull it off.
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    edited May 4
    @DaveyMac I was more talking to @JaimieT because we had another discussion going in the other thread.

    I don't think it's impossible to discuss this if you are a man. In fact my husband seems to be relating to this show a lot, not on the literal level of being a woman and being a forced sex object but I think more in the metaphorical sense of being trapped and being afraid of the more fundamentalist segments of our society coming to power. Also I am not a huge fan of identity politics cornering people into thinking they don't have a voice. 

    The thing about this though is - and not all women are going to agree with me- that I think if you have experienced all that women experience on a regular basis you know this shit is not that far under the surface. Like last fall when the "grab her by the pussy" tape surfaced, a lot of women (including myself) thought for a second that he was done, surely he can't carry on his campaign after this, surely not in 2016, surely not against a respectable opponent who we're pretty sure didn't grab any pussy and even if you considered her a compromise or compromised candidate, we pretty much know she actually DIDN'T murder a bunch of people or run a child porn ring out of a pizza store in DC...right? right?... A lot of women (also including myself) got vocal on social media and IRL about our own experiences with similar situations - that exact situation happened to me, actually, about 30 years ago, just with an anonymous high school boy and not the future President (although the clock is still running, I suppose). So a lot of women got triggered too. And then the sun rose and set a couple of times, some half assed excuses were made on the morning shows, the campaign rolled on, and the motherfucker won! It was a sick feeling. It still is. 

    I really hope something like this doesn't happen in the US. But you see the recently won gains for women (and religious and ethnic minorities, and immigrants, and LGBT folks, etc) so blatantly being attacked through legal means, and being slapped down by the courts, that it's not that much of a stretch to imagine a frustrated administration taking it a step further. Coups and extreme violations of human rights have happened, and are happening, throughout history and throughout the world today. So it's scary to watch.
    DaveyMacBourbonQueen
    Be a human, not a machine.

    Angie Kritenbrink
    akritenbrink on most social media

  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited May 4
    DaveyMac said:


    I also realize, being a white dude who hasn't lived in the States for ten years, that I am not the best person to try to argue or debate these things, as I have a lot of distance from the realities of what's actually happening on the ground.

    Hey man, don't discount your white-dudeness as making your opinion less relevant here. You're supposed to be the one taking us over. Haha.
    DaveyMac
  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    Haha. Yeah I was just thinking I wasn't adding anything new to the debate, so I just did what I tend to do and throw in a caveat.

    @akritenbrink Just after reading your comment above, I saw that the Republican proposed healthcare bill would reinstate sexual assault as a pre-existing condition, which is really fucked up. Talk about regression. Still a long way to go to Gilead, but I get what you're saying. People normalize this stuff and seemingly little things can build up to bigger things with people agreeing just give up a little each time, before realizing just how much they've given up.
    BourbonQueen
  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    edited May 4
    On a slightly different note, one scene that I really hope they keep in from the book is the one where the Japanese tourists come and want to take pictures of the handmaids. It's cool see the script flipped where it's the Americans that are the regressive society and people from other societies would want to come in and take pictures and go home and tell all their friends about how weird and fucked up it is. I also like that scene does some world-building, revealing that other parts of the world perhaps did not fall into a dystopia. And it's so efficient in that Atwood never has to leave Offred's point of view to give us that information.

    I also have this idea that part of the reason Gilead doesn't survive is that, around the world, other societies rather than falling backwards actually put their heads together to solve the birth crisis and then work with the resistance to bring down the state and rebuild afresh. That's just head canon, but I just like the idea that America alone can't save itself. 
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited May 4
    Japanese tourists take photos of everything, of the most mundane things. I mean, I wouldn't know; that's just a tourism stereotype I've heard along the way. Also when I was in China, so many people (outside of Beijing) wanted a picture with me. White people are novelties there. So it makes me wonder why she chose an Asian culture. Maybe because we Westerners like to think of ourselves as more progressive than them -- hence my sharing of their weird photography ways. Yeah, I like that. It's like, yeah they're quirky, but does that actually mean anything? Nope.
    DaveyMac
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    Saw this the other day re: plausibility.

    https://blog.chewxy.com/2017/04/29/the-handmaids-tale/
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    JaimieT said:

    Japanese tourists take photos of everything, of the most mundane things. I mean, I wouldn't know; that's just a tourism stereotype I've heard along the way. Also when I was in China, so many people (outside of Beijing) wanted a picture with me. White people are novelties there. So it makes me wonder why she chose an Asian culture. Maybe because we Westerners like to think of ourselves as more progressive than them -- hence my sharing of their weird photography ways. Yeah, I like that. It's like, yeah they're quirky, but does that actually mean anything? Nope.

    This is kind of an  80's trope. You did see big groups of Japanese guys taking photos of everything, even in the Omaha area where I was living then. In high school, my friend and I were eating at Fuddruckers, a burger place where they had a kind of fixins bar with everything you might want on your burger, and a big group of Japanese guys in suits came through after us and ate burgers and took lots of pics of the fixins bar. We found the fixins bar quite unremarkable, but I guess they didn't haha.
    DaveyMac
    Be a human, not a machine.

    Angie Kritenbrink
    akritenbrink on most social media

  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    Yeah I know that it was a big trope in the 80's and I get that it's a stereotype to show Japanese or Asian tourists taking photos of everything. But the scene here is more complicated than that. Offred focuses on the women's short skirts and nice shoes and contemplates the freedom that these tourist women have. She contemplates how these tourist women can wear what they want and leave Gilead whenever they want to. There's also a moment where one of the tourists asks her if she's happy, to which she can't give an honest answer. That moment reminded me of how people talk about women in Burqas and Niqabs.

    Of course all of this is very surface-level, but I thought it really worked to establish that things are different on the outside and was an efficient way to let the reader know that. Now, I'd hope in a 2017 adaptation that they could get more creative rather than having it just be the well-worn trope of Japanese tourists, but I think it'd be cool if they include scene that does the same sort of thing. 
    JaimieTakritenbrink
  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    @JaimieT Thanks for sharing the link. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but will check it out later.
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