Friday, November 9, 2018

On television (part two): Handmaid's Tale

(Two screenshots I took of THT, with Prisma filters added)
1. I got sucked into The Handmaid's Tale (THT) a few weeks ago. I began watching at least an episode every day, usually just before bed. Never has a show affected my mood so much. Every torture depicted on-screen became my torture. The utter boredom and despair of a handmaid's life was mine. More and more of my dreams were of being held captive, of trying to escape. 

Even in the daylight, the trauma from the previous evening clung to me. As I went about my day, I often found myself panicked about how Offred could flee from the commander's home. 

Was a compelling story really worth this much psychological trauma?

2. I stopped at Season Two, Episode Four a few days ago. (If you've watched the show, you'll know which episode this is.) It's hard to watch a character who seems to have succumbed to her circumstances. 

Why should I care anymore? I understand the perils and horrors of June's life and don't need to see them repeated and expanded upon without some sense of impending relief. Ongoing grimness and misery are not what I usually look for in a TV show.  

[After I wrote this entry a few days ago, I went back and finished season two of the damned show.]

3. If this was a British drama, it would be done or nearly done by now. A a total of 10 or 20 episodes, issued over two or three seasons, and the story would be complete. No need to keep expanding it, adding more tortures, backstories, and characters just to keep it going. 

Alas, I read recently that the creator of THT TV show envisions having it play out over 10 seasons. That would include, I assume, at least one season of rebellion and war, and perhaps another season of Life-After-Gilead--which would mean at least six more seasons of handmaids being raped, unwomen continuing to dig up radioactive dirt, and traitors being hung for public display.

Why would I want to stick around for that? 

It's time to release Offred (and me) from this trauma. End it with season three or--perhaps even better--with a two-hour special in which the anthropologist from the future at the end of Atwood's book has tried to piece together what happened to Offred and the women of Gilead. 

If I remember it correctly, the anthropologist laughs occasionally during her presentation on Gilead--not to make light of the handmaid's life, but perhaps to show that such a life was unbelievable in the much-saner present day. The appearance of laughter--or a scene invoking laughter--might be the most shocking twist of all in a future episode of THT.

No comments: