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Atwood's 'The Handmaid’s Tale' on Hulu

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On 5/4/2017 at 9:18 AM, Arch-MaesterPhilip said:

I think being on Hulu has something to do with it. I might read the book but I'm not sure I want to pay for Hulu in order to watch this.

This. 

All these shows cropping up on non-traditional cable-available stations is great, but each individual subscription costs money. I have amazon prime. I have Netflix. I'm not super interested in signing up for something to see one program that lasts 8 episodes or whatever the run is. Hulu hasn't really been pushing their original programming. They did some with The Path and now Harlots (which debuted in ironic timing around Handmaid's Tale). They could all be great shows but at some point I need to stop paying extra for television. It was almost a risk (perhaps a great one) for a provider like Hulu to take on a show like this. I would be curious to see how many new subscriptions they acquired because of it. They had to have gained eyeballs to renew it for new content that spans beyond the book.

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On 5/4/2017 at 8:36 AM, matt b said:

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, bitch.

This show continues to be amazing but incredibly difficult to watch. I'm tense throughout an entire episode. And I need something light and happy to go to after. I can't imagine binge watching this one.

Exactly. It's a depressing and just hard to watch show filled with horrible, horrible people doing horrible, horrible things. It's very well-made, well-written, and well-written, despite what the obnoxious SCW's may want to make of it.

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7 hours ago, kairparavel said:

This. 

All these shows cropping up on non-traditional cable-available stations is great, but each individual subscription costs money. I have amazon prime. I have Netflix. I'm not super interested in signing up for something to see one program that lasts 8 episodes or whatever the run is. Hulu hasn't really been pushing their original programming. They did some with The Path and now Harlots (which debuted in ironic timing around Handmaid's Tale). They could all be great shows but at some point I need to stop paying extra for television. It was almost a risk (perhaps a great one) for a provider like Hulu to take on a show like this. I would be curious to see how many new subscriptions they acquired because of it. They had to have gained eyeballs to renew it for new content that spans beyond the book.

You summed up my feelings in a much more thorough fashion than I could. I doubt I'm going to pay for the new Star Trek for that same reason. I feel like I could be missing out on great tv too but would prefer not to pay anything in addition to what I'm paying for now. They definitely did gain eyeballs, people are going to want to see where it goes. 

I think doing Harlots and The Handmaid's Tale at the same time was brilliant.  

Edited by Arch-MaesterPhilip

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Hmm. 

I never read the novels, I might give it a go now so that I can compare it to the show. 

I really enjoyed the first episode, it caught my interest, it defined the context and introduced the main character. I like dystopian stories, and it's been a while since I watched one. I watched the second episode too, which was okay, but I can't say I quite recall what happened. I remember that was the episode that introduced the "ceremony". What I do recall is that I was really disappointed with the third episode. 27 minutes spent on Janine's giving birth? You have to be kidding me.

I can see the creative intent behind how slow paced the show is, but the plot of the first 4 episodes could fit into 2 episodes. Long long minutes spent with the camera focusing on Offred's face or somebody else's face. Long long minutes spent in silence. I understand that it's supposed to make me feel uneasy, but to be honest, it mostly makes me feel bored. I must be very insensitive. But slow paced soon turned into drag and I feel like they suffer from the classic case of how to stretch one book into 8 hours of screentime.

The actors might be good, I feel like there isn't an opportunity for them to shine because all the scenes are so dull. Elisabeth Moss does a decent enough job with the camera's being shoved in her face all the time, but on the whole, I can't say I'm in deep sympathy with her character. There was no spark. 

The plot... since I haven't read the book I don't think I should say much about the plot. There are a few things I find illogical. The answers might have got lost in the adaption process, that's part of the reason why I intend to read the book, to find out if there's an explanation at all. I also had the feeling that the jump to Offglen's point of view (her trial and the execution and the hospital) was out of place. It didn't feel connected to the rest of the episode, it didn't blend into its flow. 

Otherwise the show does a good job delivering an atmosphere, both in the present and in the flashbacks. I only wish there was more substantial plot or a faster paced storytelling, because at this point it feels like a drag. 

So yeah, it's an interesting show to watch, I'll stay tuned for now, but I'm not particularly impressed so far. 

Edited by RhaenysB

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We're a week behind you here in Canada, since only 2 episodes were shown the first night, not three. Just saw the Nolite episode. It was very weird to see Moira and Offred walking around Toronto City Hall, seeing the hanged against it's walls and books being burned in front of it, and then the two of them in the subway station.

I was reading the weekly reviews in the New York Times, and a complaint of the reviewer was that many of the things were being done to the Handmaids were actually things done to black women or other women of color, not to white women. She also thought that it was not plausible that black women would be equal among the white handmaidens, that they were probably some lower class of handmaiden. I see from the Wikipedia entry about the book that it appears black people were sent to their own part of the country, in apartheid-like segregation, something we really have not seen so far.

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15 hours ago, Fragile Bird said:

We're a week behind you here in Canada, since only 2 episodes were shown the first night, not three. Just saw the Nolite episode. It was very weird to see Moira and Offred walking around Toronto City Hall, seeing the hanged against it's walls and books being burned in front of it, and then the two of them in the subway station.

I was reading the weekly reviews in the New York Times, and a complaint of the reviewer was that many of the things were being done to the Handmaids were actually things done to black women or other women of color, not to white women. She also thought that it was not plausible that black women would be equal among the white handmaidens, that they were probably some lower class of handmaiden. I see from the Wikipedia entry about the book that it appears black people were sent to their own part of the country, in apartheid-like segregation, something we really have not seen so far.

I actually was wondering about this. Do you have the review on hand? Racism hasn't seemed to be a factor at all in the show and despite all the other dystopian stratification in Gilead, it's kind of presented as a post-racial world, which is fine for certain types of shows but it's highly unrealistic in this context given the horrible gender/class inequalities this show is depicting. Since pre-Gilead seemed like it was pretty much supposed to be the standard, modern-day USA, it's pretty ridiculous that the show isn't addressing racial inequality at all. It just kind of leaves you with the impression that the US in the show finally became "post-racial" so race isn't a factor in Gilead either -- which is highly unrealistic. That said, I don't think we've seen any black people in high-ranking positions in Gilead. Nonetheless, the commanders are clearly fine with having mixed-race babies -- but that could just be a factor of the sterilization/fertility crisis. At any rate, it's kind of frustrating that the show doesn't delve into or explore these nuances. 

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2 hours ago, All-for-Joffrey said:

I actually was wondering about this. Do you have the review on hand? Racism hasn't seemed to be a factor at all in the show and despite all the other dystopian stratification in Gilead, it's kind of presented as a post-racial world, which is fine for certain types of shows but it's highly unrealistic in this context given the horrible gender/class inequalities this show is depicting. Since pre-Gilead seemed like it was pretty much supposed to be the standard, modern-day USA, it's pretty ridiculous that the show isn't addressing racial inequality at all. It just kind of leaves you with the impression that the US in the show finally became "post-racial" so race isn't a factor in Gilead either -- which is highly unrealistic. That said, I don't think we've seen any black people in high-ranking positions in Gilead. Nonetheless, the commanders are clearly fine with having mixed-race babies -- but that could just be a factor of the sterilization/fertility crisis. At any rate, it's kind of frustrating that the show doesn't delve into or explore these nuances. 

The production may have been too frightened to confront all the issues that skin-color discrimination would add to their focus, which is on gender discrimination.  However, I too feel that considering what we are experiencing right now, not just in the US, but many other places, that xtian radicalism is joined at the hip with alt-right white supremacy.  So this falls far short of what this HULU dystopia plausibly would be.

 

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3 hours ago, All-for-Joffrey said:

I actually was wondering about this. Do you have the review on hand? Racism hasn't seemed to be a factor at all in the show and despite all the other dystopian stratification in Gilead, it's kind of presented as a post-racial world, which is fine for certain types of shows but it's highly unrealistic in this context given the horrible gender/class inequalities this show is depicting. Since pre-Gilead seemed like it was pretty much supposed to be the standard, modern-day USA, it's pretty ridiculous that the show isn't addressing racial inequality at all. It just kind of leaves you with the impression that the US in the show finally became "post-racial" so race isn't a factor in Gilead either -- which is highly unrealistic. That said, I don't think we've seen any black people in high-ranking positions in Gilead. Nonetheless, the commanders are clearly fine with having mixed-race babies -- but that could just be a factor of the sterilization/fertility crisis. At any rate, it's kind of frustrating that the show doesn't delve into or explore these nuances. 

Here is a link to the review for Episode 5, which I have not seen yet. There are links below it to the reviews of the other episodes.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/arts/television/the-handmaids-tale-recap-faithful.html?_r=0

I suspect Atwood simply wasn't focused on the way other races would be treated other than mentioning segregation, and the series writing team did not go there.

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4 hours ago, All-for-Joffrey said:

I actually was wondering about this. Do you have the review on hand? Racism hasn't seemed to be a factor at all in the show and despite all the other dystopian stratification in Gilead, it's kind of presented as a post-racial world, which is fine for certain types of shows but it's highly unrealistic in this context given the horrible gender/class inequalities this show is depicting. Since pre-Gilead seemed like it was pretty much supposed to be the standard, modern-day USA, it's pretty ridiculous that the show isn't addressing racial inequality at all. It just kind of leaves you with the impression that the US in the show finally became "post-racial" so race isn't a factor in Gilead either -- which is highly unrealistic. That said, I don't think we've seen any black people in high-ranking positions in Gilead. Nonetheless, the commanders are clearly fine with having mixed-race babies -- but that could just be a factor of the sterilization/fertility crisis. At any rate, it's kind of frustrating that the show doesn't delve into or explore these nuances. 

We've seen a number of men of color in higher ranking positions, though unfortunately just in the background.  When Moira and June go down into the train station there are several (I can't recall race, though I think Asian).  At the doctor's office there was a wall of commanders and their wives with babies and several were poc.  There really needs to be some backstory on that part for it to be believable. 

As far as the wombs/handmaids, to me that part makes sense.  Wasting a working ovary would seem to be an ultimate sin for the gilead society.

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From what I've heard about it, basically the show runners didn't want to have an all-white cast and so decided not to focus on the racial aspects of the novel. I agree that it is not realistic, but then I don't really find the premise very realistic anyway so it doesn't bother me much. Plus Moira is awesome so I'm glad they got to use that actress.

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13 hours ago, Starkess said:

From what I've heard about it, basically the show runners didn't want to have an all-white cast and so decided not to focus on the racial aspects of the novel. I agree that it is not realistic, but then I don't really find the premise very realistic anyway so it doesn't bother me much. Plus Moira is awesome so I'm glad they got to use that actress.

Considering how things worked in the antebellum slaveocracy south, in a political state that was heir to the former United States, in which fertility was was so precarious, in order to ensure their labor force, forms of slave-breeding would go on. Unless -- whatever is preventing so many white women from conceiving doesn't affect African Americans?  The implications of that in terms of both the troubled history of feminism and the blithe announcements that African Americans didn't mind the sorts of work they were forced to perform opens yet another couple cans of worms in terms of white people so often either forgetting the existence of black people or deliberately disappearing them, as well as having a lot of twisted thinking to justify the inhuman treatment so often meted out to the enslaved and their descendants.

In the novel that labor force seemed to be made up of discriminated against non-whites, so, well, the implications are there for the present day extreme xtian white right Gilead.  But that would be, without extremely skilled writers, and people who understand these matters deeply, historically and right now, difficult for the series to pull off without going off the rails racially.  I.e. -- too scared to go there. So they have glided over it with providing a black handmaid without explanation beyond a few black Gilead males in the background, w/o speaking parts -- or does one ever speak on screen, or do anything? One can take it there is no black male figure on the order of a Colin Powell?

 

Edited by Zorral

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An African American woman looks at the show (and the book):

Quote

For many, The Handmaid’s Tale speaks to our era more than the one it was born into in 1985. But that’s only true if you haven’t been paying attention, a luxury that I, as a black woman, cannot afford. 

 

Edited by Zorral

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The reality is that there are many Christian Dominionists serving in our legislature right now.... and Trumps cabinet is replete with them.... Pence, deVos, Sessions, Carson, Perry among them... Here is a book which goes into detail... www.YahwehToHell.com 

This is a more plausible dystopia than most people realize... we have seen this exact thing happen in Iran, when the Ayatollah took control of the govt there... it went from a very modern secular society, to an Islamic state almost overnight...

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18 hours ago, Martini Sigil said:

The reality is that there are many Christian Dominionists serving in our legislature right now.... and Trumps cabinet is replete with them.... Pence, deVos, Sessions, Carson, Perry among them... Here is a book which goes into detail... www.YahwehToHell.com 

This is a more plausible dystopia than most people realize... we have seen this exact thing happen in Iran, when the Ayatollah took control of the govt there... it went from a very modern secular society, to an Islamic state almost overnight...

Alas, that you are correct about this -- and notice, as with Iran, here too there are women among them, aiding and abetting and perpetrating and perpetuating -- just as in The Handmaid's Tale.

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On 9/1/2017 at 7:31 PM, Iskaral Pust said:

How bad is Atwood in person?  I've heard other opinions to James Arryn.  I've only read Atwood and I've enjoyed each novel so far.  I'll have to pick up the Handmaid's Tale.

I had the chance to meet her when she gave a lecture about dystopias. She was very polite and her views on certain issues were very interesting, she seemed like a really nice, easygoing person. 

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5 hours ago, Danelle said:

I had the chance to meet her when she gave a lecture about dystopias. She was very polite and her views on certain issues were very interesting, she seemed like a really nice, easygoing person. 

I've met her more than once and I agree with that.  She's also a bright and lively dinner companion. Not all authors are, and for good reasons. 

After lectures at our university the students keep throwing question after question and comments at her.  She responds with courtesy and respect to all of them, and with a lot of patience.

I know how tired one can be after doing a serious presentation for a university audience of colleagues and students -- they are always scheduled when one would start thinking of having dinner, but it's still just a bit too early, because one can't speak effectively on a full stomach.

By the end of the presentation one is hungry and needs a pee desperately.  But there's q&a to get through -- during which it is inevitable that a student with a particular agenda will try to 'call her out' which always needs special handling by the presenter. Then comes the reception -- and while everyone else is drinking (generally bad) wine and devouring the fruit, crackers and (generally better) cheese to take the edge off -- the presenter is signing books and talking to each person.  This isn't as easy as it may look, and it never gets easier -- even though the author is very pleased to have the opportunity to do this, meet people who may teach her something, and sell more books.

Dinner by oneself and bed is the most attractive option -- but the presenter has to be with a whole group of people for (finally!) dinner, who have been waiting for the opportunity to have  more intimate contact with her. Hours yet, before bed.

And then the next day she gets up very early on too little sleep to start the whole thing again, starting with doing her hair and make-up.  Sometimes I think that's the worst of it for women doing this -- one has to always be thinking of one's appearance.  To say otherwise is unrealistic.  

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It's been years since I read the book (I've reread it at my current house, so less than 13, but more than 5).  Some parts I remember very closely from the book, others don't seem familiar.  Doesn't matter, I think they've done a very good job creating the environment (mood(?)...can't seen to find the right word...the essence(?)) of the book. I'm really enjoying it (that really does seem like the wrong word...enjoying the production, not the subject matter, maybe)

Some of the flash backs seem to come along rather quickly and can feel a little jarring, but I suppose that part of the point.

My husband sat down and watched an episode with me (#4 maybe). his response "That's a seriously fucked up show"

My reply "Yep"

him: "Are there more episodes?"

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Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian feminist and Arab Spring activist, has a very good op-ed in the New York Times about how women in Saudi Arabia are literally living the Handmaid's Tale -- including how complicit the rest of the world is. (IE: The Mexican ambassador from last week.) 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/opinion/why-saudi-women-are-literally-living-the-handmaids-tale.html?smid=tw-nytopinion&smtyp=curSaudi&mtrref=www.facebook.com&gwh=A9F574D15F5C291A703FC72FBEC0C117&gwt=pay&assetType=opinion

Ms. Atwood has famously said all the horrors she included in her 1985 book have actually happened in one place and at one time or another. As far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, many of them continue to happen. There is Offred being dragged back to the re-education center after she tried to escape with her friend, Moira. Here is Ms. Lasloom dragged onto a plane to Riyadh and into detention, where, activists say, only government officials and family members can contact her.

“Most young Saudi women who are imprisoned there,” explained Hala al-Dosari, a women’s-rights campaigner, “are sentenced for morality-related charges such as being caught in the company of an unrelated male, being accused of running away from home by a male relative or being disobedient to parents.” The latter, she said, is treated as “a crime calling for immediate detention in Saudi Arabia.”

Ms. al-Dosari published a petition, which more than 14,000 Saudi women signed last year, calling on King Salman to abolish the guardianship system completely.

“Most horrific is that once a woman is locked in any state institution,” she said, “she won’t be released unless into the custody of a male relative or else she will stay in the prison or state shelter forever.”

The system has deep historical roots in the kingdom. “My grandmother’s income was controlled, invested and portioned out to her by her sons,” Ms. Gama, the poet, said. “All very creepy and disturbing when you see the Caucasian Offred experience laws that reduce her to the kept property of her sympathetic and kind husband.

“Luckily, my father was a sympathetic and kind guardian as Offred’s husband proves to be,” she recalled, “but all the kindness and laughter in the world cannot erase the fact this system is routinely abused.”

Saudi Arabia isn’t just a conservative country with different values we shouldn’t judge. It is a modern Gilead.

 

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Atwood herself has said she based a lot of it on the rise of the Ayatollahs in Iran, actually. And having read interviews with the showrunners- the reason that people of color are not segregated as in the book is they wanted women of any race to be able to watch and feel like this could be them, and I think it's a smart choice. Also, with fertility that drastically low, you wouldn't have the luxury of excluding a breeding female based on race. I think the show is superb and well worth the price of the Hulu I bought to watch it (also now I can watch Golden Girls)

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