When I’m not writing one of my soul-sucking essays on library processes, I’ve been watching a few television shows. My two current favourites are Brooklyn 99 and Bob’s Burgers. I’ve also started watched The Handmaid’s Tale which I’m enjoying very much. I read and reviewed THT on this blog back in February, and since I heard that OITNB’s Samira Wiley would be playing Moira I was 100% hyped for the show. I’m going to be writing my thoughts on the show – if you don’t want spoilers, here’s your warning to stop reading!
I have seen three of the six episodes that are currently out and overall I’m a fan. The acting is incredible, and the show is true to the book entirely. The show does still include a few elements we didn’t see in the book. Offred’s name is revealed as being June, and there are characters such as Ofglen who are being focused on far more than they were in the book. The Commander and his wife Serena are significantly younger than they are in the book, but this change works.
The tension is spot-on, and the world of Gilead is perfectly chilling – maybe because it manages to feel like a possible world we could find ourselves in. As the show is mostly from Offred’s perspective, you generally only know as much about the world as she does, which adds to how scary the show feels. The only thing that felt jarring to me was the choice of songs that would play at the end of each episode – they all have felt like strange or inappropriate choices so far.
There’s one thing in the show that feels very different to the book to me, which is that the Handmaids are very clearly human. The book makes you feel detached from all of the Handmaids but Offred, as she’s the only one whose voice you’ve been able to hear. They seem to fit into their awful roles so well.
In the show, the Handmaids’ facades don’t feel as strong. As risky as it is to take the wrong route through town, or speak of anything other than the weather, the Handmaids can’t help but reveal aspects of their identity and their past. In an early scene in the show a Handmaid at a supermarket speaks to Offred and Ofglen, and accidentally reveals that she has been listening to the news. She’s instantly horrified by her mistake, and tries to cover it up.
That sort of thing never happened in the book. I think I prefer seeing the show’s portrayal of Offred’s fellow Handmaids – it’s interesting to see that even though these women are the only ones strong enough to have survived so long, they still are human and they still are afraid.