The Handmaid's Tale - Season 2 Review: Oppression we have known, but never seen before

Feb 01, 2018, 10:55 IST | Sonia Lulla

The top gongs that it swept at the recently concluded Golden Globes - including an acting nod for Elisabeth Moss - are mere additions to a list of coveted titles bestowed on the show, all of which were well deserved

The Handmaid Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
Dystopian drama
Director: Bruce Miller
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley
Rating: Rating

The top gongs that it swept at the recently concluded Golden Globes - including an acting nod for Elisabeth Moss - are mere additions to a list of coveted titles bestowed on the show, all of which were well deserved. Since its US premiere in April 2017, it's tough to spot criticism for The Handmaid's Tale - a testimony of the brilliance of Bruce Miller's adaptation.

Touted as a dystopian drama, as few argue the series even ticks the check-boxes of a horror, the venture is mercilessly gruesome and gut-wrenching, even in the absence of violence, or violence, as we know it. What makes the watch even more agonising is that the series, inspired by Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel by the same name, is apparently based on assorted chunks from history.

June (Moss) introduces us to the Republic of Gilead - originally a part of the US before it was hit by a fertility crisis - where the cruel gender hierarchy has stripped women of the ability to take any decision, reducing them to the mercy of men, whether as wives, employees, or even handmaids, referred to as "wombs on legs".

Handmaids as their "caretaker" Aunt Lydia tells them, are "special girls", given their ability to reproduce. "You girls will serve the leaders of the faithful, and their barren wives," she says, introducing them to their world of forced surrogacy and rape. Moss, as June, now a handmaid called Offred (Of Fred, implying belonging to her owner, Fred), is spectacular. Her silence will make you ache for her as she is raped by the commander, with her head banging into the lap of his equally miserable barren wife, who holds her arms down.

Moss is commendably reserved as she endures the diktats of the new-found government's abnormal systems. You find yourself vociferously rooting for her in her subtle revolts, evident, until now, only to herself. Miller's play of colours is among the highlights of the show, successfully balancing between the darkness that now defines the life of the handmaids, and the soft pastels reflective of a baby-obsessed world.

The background score sits appropriately alongside Offred's victories and turmoil. The detachment of sexual desires from the "ceremony", as the disinterested commander forces himself onto a disengaged handmaid, is particularly noteworthy. The Handmaid's Tale, set for an India premiere on AXN from Monday, will make you get off Netflix and return to your TV set.

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