Like every person with an internet connection, I’ve been devouring season three of The Handmaid’s Tale (currently streaming via SBS On Demand). While a little frustrated by the ambling plot, that’s gone well beyond the conclusion of Margaret Atwood’s book, I’ve remained a devoted viewer. There is so much about this dystopian futuristic tale that feels other-worldly. At the same time, there’s so much that is familiar. And it’s that terrifying familiarity, which keeps me tuning in week after week, wanting to know how it ends.
The social and political order of Gilead was born from a combination of environmental cataclysm and intense religious fundamentalism. Birth rates plummet after the planet becomes so damaged that humans are increasingly unable to reproduce. Men control law-making, while women are reduced to decorative or functional means. The handmaids, in their trademark red cloaks and white bonnets, are captive breeders who are routinely raped by their commanders while the rest of the household looks on.
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