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5 Things To Know About ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

By Akinwale Akinyoade
11 September 2019   |   2:11 pm
Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood's yesterday released her highly-anticipated, "The Testaments", a sequel to "The Handmaid's Tale". The award-winning "The Handmaid's Tale" was written as a novel in 1985 and has since been turned into a major television series and has become a rallying point for feminist movements around the world in recent years. "The Handmaid's Tale" follows…

The Handmaid's Tale

Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood’s yesterday released her highly-anticipated, “The Testaments”, a sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

The award-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale” was written as a novel in 1985 and has since been turned into a major television series and has become a rallying point for feminist movements around the world in recent years.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” follows an era of silence and danger which depicts the United States taken over by a totalitarian theocracy, where fertile women are forced into sexual slavery. These handmaids are recognisable by their uniform red outfits.

Here are five things to know about the global phenomenon:

The Handmaid's Tale

Elizabeth Moss posing with some other cast members The Handmaid’s Tale | Photo – NME

George Orwell inspired

Speaking about the inspiration behind her book, Atwood revealed that she began writing “The Handmaid’s Tale” in West Berlin in 1984 drawing her muse from famed author George Orwell. The 79-year-old Atwood also revealed that the feeling of being surrounded by the Berlin Wall, with East Berlin on the other side, also formed the backdrop to its creation.

Trump protests

“The Handmaid’s Tale” was released in 2017, after the inauguration of US President Donald Trump and viewers saw it as a sign. The TV series became a focal point for the anti-Trump movement. The handmaids’ outfits became an emblem: it was a common sight during protests against the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He was accused of sexual abuse when he was a high school student.
It also appeared during protests around the world for women’s rights.

Costume designer shocked –
The TV series costume designer who created the handmaids’ red habit and white bonnet was shocked at how it became a powerful symbol for the #MeToo movement.

“For two and a half years, I was doing ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. I did not really see the impact,” Ane Crabtree told AFP last October.
“It’s grown bigger than the purpose I designed it for. I wanted people to be afraid. I wanted it to be normal and terrifying. Sometimes the most terrifying things are the most normal things.”

Crabtree’s bet paid off, but she didn’t escape unscathed. The two seasons she spent working on “The Handmaid’s Tale” dredged up sexual abuse that she suffered as a child. She left the series before the third season.

A tad too violent 

The television series took liberties with Atwood’s novel. Although the show has enjoyed global success, it has also been denounced for its many violent scenes, including stoning, hanging and electrocution, which were only hinted at by Atwood. The New York Times newspaper said the second season was “brutal and not much else”.

Scientology and feminism
The expressive face of actress Elisabeth Moss has become an emblem of the TV series. In playing the lead role of handmaid June, Moss, 37, has cemented her reputation as a feminist actress. While “The Handmaid’s Tale” depicts a republic under the control of a religious sect, the lead actress is a member of the Church of Scientology. She rejects comparisons:

“I always try to make my characters end up being heroines and representing feminism,” she told The Times newspaper in August.”