When Does ‘The Handmaid's Tale’ Take Place? The Not-So-Distant Future Looks Bleak
As if things weren’t terrifying enough in our current political climate, Hulu's new series The Handmaid’s Tale is a pretty freaky vision of what America could be, you know, if our government was overthrown by a religious cult. Unlike most dystopian novels, which are normally set hundreds of years into the future, Hulu's new show, The Handmaid's Tale, takes place in current time. It's basically set in a parallel universe to the life we know today, except terrible (but not impossible) things have happened to end up there. The Handmaid's Tale, written by Margaret Atwood in 1985 has been updated for today and weaves together fiction and reality in a devastating way.
The Handmaid's Tale follows the story of the the collapse of the American government after congress is destroyed by "terrorists." In the weeks following the bombing and the suspension of the constitution, women's rights are stripped away, starting with locked bank accounts and massive lay-offs. When the main character, Offred tries to flee to Canada with her family, she is captured and separated from them. She is taken to a center, where she is forced to serve an upperclass family as a handmaid. Her job is to bear children, and she has a limited amount of time to get pregnant before she's replaced.
Think about some of the other dystopian favorites and how fictional they seem. The Hunger Games pits 12 children against each other in a battle till the death for the amusement of the capitol. Divergent tricks people into thinking the rest of the world was destroyed and you can only live in one faction for the rest of your life. If you have multiple skills in that world, you become public enemy No. 1. Again, pretty unlikely. The Giver takes place in a bubble where the weather is always lovely and no one sees colors. Pfft. Meanwhile, we made it through "1984" relatively unscathed, unless you count parachute pants, those were bad. You get what I mean though, none of these feel very relatable to real life.
However, there are moments in the new Handmaid's Tale show that just feel eerily similar to life these days. After the women are stripped of their rights, there's an emotional scene with Offred and her friend Moira at a women's march. While the ones people had after Trump's election were peaceful, this one showed the reality of what could happen when things get out of hand. I imagine that if our rights were taken from us as aggressively as theirs, it wouldn't be too unrealistic of a scene.
The Republic of Gilead, which is what they call America after the takeover, mainly exists because of citizen's refusal to stand up for their rights. In the trailer, Offred explains, "I was asleep before, that's how we let it happen. When they slaughtered congress, we didn't wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the constitution, we didn't wake up then either." Yes, it's extreme, but in today's society we need to remember to stay awake. It's a pretty morbid reminder, but an extremely important one.
We should never forget Margaret Atwood's wise words, "Don't let the bastards grind you down."