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Hulu's Scariest Program: The Handmaid's Tale

Updated on April 28, 2017
The Handmaid's Tale TV poster
The Handmaid's Tale TV poster


The Handmaid's Tale is a television series based on the book of the same name written by Margaret Atwood. In a dystopian future, the Republic of Gilead (formerly the United States) is ruled by extreme Christian fundamentalist who organized together to form a military regime to enforce its rulings on the public. In this new regime, people (especially women) are subjugated and divided into separate classes. Certain women like the handmaids in this tale, are in a class of women classified by their fertility and ability to give birth. The first 3 episodes were simultaneously released on Hulu, April 26th, 2017.


Sexuality has it is depicted in the series is extremely curtailed. Sex is not an act to be done out of enjoyment. It is only for procreation and the discomfort behind "the ceremony" that the handmaid and the wife participate in is further proof of that. In the ceremony, the handmaid lies down on her back between the legs of the wife, while the man enters the handmaid until he finishes inside of her. Also, the word "gay" is prohibited from being uttered and anyone who uses it or engages in same-sex activity will be marked a "gender-traitor." What's the punishment for disobeying the rules set by the Republic of Gilead in regards of sexuality? Hanging or worst, female circumcision.

The Handmaid's Tale book cover
The Handmaid's Tale book cover


Religious fanaticism runs rampant in the new Republic of Gilead. Laws stem from biblical days and high ranking men decide the fate of people without using a jury of their peers. Scriptures from the bible are taken literally and do nothing but facilitate a narrow mindset. Nuns who are unwilling to have marital relations are banished. And priests who aren't willing to convert to the republic are hung from the walls. Religious freedom is dead.


Society has degraded into a class system where colors are used to depict your worth. The colors vary between the ruling class and the servants. Blue are for the wives of the high ranking commanders who rule their own household. Brown are for the "Aunts" who handle the handmaids. And red for the handmaids who's primary role in giving birth. Individuals who do not conform or "fit" inside the ideals of the theocracy is considered less of a person and killed, exiled, or shunned.


Through flashbacks, we see modern society today as it succumbs to the new totalitarian government. Before the coup, there are multiple signs that people chose to not take seriously—until it was too late. First, women quickly lost their jobs. Next, Congress and the U.S Constitution are abolished while martial law is put in effect to restore order. During protest, the military shoots in the crowd causing mass casualties. Our society is not far off because somewhere in the world, a place is experiencing this same freighting reality.


Overall, The Handmaid's Tale is a terrifying piece of television and literature. The underlying fears of today's society is present and given a narrative. The dialogue is very philosophical and social in a way that gets the viewer to think deeply. The show is horrifying not just because of how women are treated but also due to how quickly society crumbled and reversed back into its primal state. The reality surrounding The Handmaid's Tale is what is truly scary.

Hulu's A Handmaid's Tale is streaming on Hulu with new episodes every Wednesday.


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