Friday, September 1, 2017

Now on Hulu: The Handmaid's Tale (2017)

The Handmaid's Tale (2017) - Created by Bruce Miller; Starring Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Max Minghella, Joseph Fiennes, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, Samira Wiley, O-T Fagbenlie.

By Kenny Howell

Well, that was troubling.

I used that word more than a few times when talking to my wife about The Handmaid's Tale, the first Hulu series that is must see material.

She didn't want to watch, fearing the emotions of hatred and disgust it would bring up in her, so I would relay kind of what was going on in the show so she could at least experience it in some way.

And several episodes, that was the only word I can use. That isn't a bad thing. It is supposed to be troubling. It is a new future world where some Fascy dickheads have taken over the United States and forced women into sex slavery, making them have intercourse with upper class men whose wives can no longer get pregnant. It is what has put this world in a tizzy. There is a huge infertility crisis, and it gave a green light to religious extremist nutjobs to enact this dictatorial rule.

What The Handmaid's Tale does well is make this seem that it is possible, and how things can spend so quickly out of control into something horrific like this. I don't think it would, not saying that, but creator Bruce Miller makes it seem that way with mirroring certain movements in America now, the heavily armed, clean cut fascist. Things just turn at one point and the slope gets really slippery. The look, with stark reds of the handmaids against a Soviet era gray and constant cold, really punches that home.

Not surprisingly, despite all the excellent stuff above, the show belongs to Elisabeth Moss (High-Rise) as one of the Handmaids Offred. Offred is actually Of Fred, the man she is paired with, a Commander (Joseph Fiennes), whose wife, played Yvonne Strahovski, makes Offred's life a living Hell, unless Offred might be pregnant. Then a light switch flips, and she does anything for Offred. It's a interesting balancing act that Strahovski handles well.

The show is really heavy and Moss' performance, which includes voice overs, is what carries it. Her command and snark when it calls for it is what keeps you invested. There are a ton of great performances, including Madeline Brewer and TV's most grating bad lady in Ann Dowd. It's a near perfect piece of work, and contains some of the most effectively haunting scenes in all of TV this year.

The entire first season of The Handmaid's Tale is now on Hulu.

Rating: ****

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