We may question the need for speculative fiction these days, when all our dystopian, misogynist nightmares can be lived out daily on Twitter. But Hulu's new series The Handmaid's Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel, couldn't feel more eerily relevant.
Set in near-future New England, it imagines an America overthrown by violent Christian extremists who, in the wake of an infertility plague, have enslaved childbearing women, called "handmaids." One of them, Offred (a terrific Elisabeth Moss), serves as our guide through this ghastly world, in which the fecund are bred like cattle, while lesbians, like those portrayed by Samira Wiley and Alexis Bledel, are deemed "gender traitors" and severely punished, sometimes with public executions.
Most frightening of all: The handmaids' headmistress, Aunt Lydia, whom Ann Dowd plays with the kind of sadistic glee that Atwood's tart, chilling dialogue deserves. A mix of Annie Wilkes, Miss Trunchbull, and Phyllis Schlafly, Lydia is a Taser-wielding tyrant on a witch hunt, seeking to snuff out even the slightest whiff of impurity. "Blessed are the meek," she whispers faux-sweetly to her disobedient disciples.
What comes next will be a shock to the system--theirs, and yours.
(Video) Cast of The Handmaid's Tale Talk Women's Rights at Tribeca Premiere:
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