The seeming disavowal amounts to a deeply strange evasion of the themes that animate the book and the new Hulu adaptation. - From The New Yorker
In the fourth episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the gripping new Hulu adaption of Margaret Atwood’s novel, Offred, our narrator and heroine, goes to the gynecologist.
Offred, played by Elisabeth Moss, is a handmaid in Gilead, the brutally repressive patriarchy that has subsumed the place formerly known as the United States, and a handmaid’s job is to reproduce; she is “a womb on two legs,” solemnly raped once a month by her Commander, Fred (Joseph Fiennes), as she lies rigid in the lap of his “barren” wife.
Still, echoed by the cast of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the disavowal amounts to a deeply strange evasion of the themes that animate the book and the show.
But the ways in which women are deprived of those rights—in Atwood’s fiction, and in the reality, past and present, that she bases it on—are unique.
(“I don’t feel like it’s a male or a female story,” he said, amazingly; at the same time, he and Moss, a producer on the show, had the good sense to make sure to hire female directors for a majority of episodes.) It is a story about the ways in which women are oppressed in a society run by men for their own benefit (no one involved seems to have a problem with the word “patriarchy”), and about how certain women take advantage of the situation to ally themselves with male power for personal gain.