Do you ever wonder how the future is going to be? Do you ever wonder if inequalities will subside or get more intense? Based on the best-selling sci-fi novel by Margaret Atwood and adapted by Hulu into the award-winning TV show (2017), the show is set mainly in America but is now under a totalitarian society control called Gilead. This show criticizes the present and the future as well as America’s culture in how we value gender, religion, freedom, sexuality/fertility, and class. As a new viewer who just started watching this show for the first time, it is crazy how close we are to living in that society. I will try my best to breakdown what is Gilead.
The story is about how the U.S government is overthrown by Gilead and the effects the country sees soon after. Women are then stripped of their money, jobs, and even some from their partners and families. Some families try to escape Gilead, and those who do escape go towards Canada (where the rest of the US government is) where they are seen as refugees and given protection.
The first thing Gilead does is to color-code women. In the future, there are many people that are going infertile, so Gilead gathers up the women, who are fertile, and stripped them from their identity and name. Their names are changed to “of (first name of Commander)”, making them the property of the commander. These fertile women are to wear scarlet red for the purpose to easily spot them because they are seen in this society as sinful. These women live with their commander and get raped against their will, and their purpose is to conceive a child and move onto the next commander. When pregnant, handmaids do not get to keep their child and only get a glimpse of motherhood, which some turn not to be mentally stable by the end of this. These women are desired and seen sexy because they are fertile and are called ‘handmaids’. Not only do they not have an identity but they have to follow rules as well. They can not read or taught to read, this applies to all types of women. The show’s main character focus on “of Fred”, who is a handmaid and her purpose is to reunite with her child, who’s with another family, and with her husband who is in Canada.
The wife of the commanders wear green-bluish color and must be seen and act as perfection and admiration. The wife suffers due to their husbands blaming them for not being fertile when some of the men are not fertile themselves either, but being a patriarchal society they blame it on the women. The wives become mothers when the handmaid’s give birth and the husbands give them attention and are desired once again.
Other types of marginalized women are maids that wear a khaki green and are not desired. Their purpose is to cook, clean and help when called upon. The other type of women are called Aunts where they are seen as more masculine and are in charge of the handmaids making sure they stick to their role. They decide when the handmaid’s get punished when not acting to their standards of women and do home visits to make sure that they are all making the effort to get pregnant and that the pregnancy is doing fine. The Aunts are the women that get the most respect of the men from time to time and are defeminized as well.
As the men are the ones in charge and are freer than women, they as well do have a level of power too. There are commanders, soldiers(called the Eyes), and regular men that work. Not all men accept the social structure and suffer in not being who they want to be with. As well, some women do not agree with the structure and help others escape to Canada or just simple gestures of comfort. The women who accept the structure take advantage and oppress the other women making them feel even less.
As for the class, depending on the level of importance of the commander there are different levels of class. Therefore, the wives of upper class feel superior to other wives as they as well do hold a bit more power than them., as they get their status from their husbands. This film as well as criticizes religion but not religion itself but the way people use religion as an excuse for their actions. For example, the Aunts use religion as to what God wants women to do to keep women in place.
This film helps us question our own behavior and actions we take towards others. To question why we do what we do, why we treat others the way we do. Of course, there is way more on what is going on this show, but these are the main focus points of the show. This show is a scary reality that I as a women do not wish to experience. As for the show as a whole, it is a good show that shows the emotion of the characters that represent their humanity, shows what people are capable of, and gives you a reality that we can prevent.