Reaching the top-tier of original television is difficult, and companies like HBO, Netflix, and FX have had a stronghold on the market. Game Of Thrones, Stranger Things, House Of Cards, Westworld, and Orange Is The New Black are hard shows to keep up with, but Hulu's latest proves that it can be done. The Handmaid's Tale has just debuted three episodes on the streaming service, and it's already in the running for TV's best.
The series - based on Margaret Atwood's classic novel - tells the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead. After fertility rates are ravaged, women are forced into sexual slavery for the upper-class. The few fertile women left are made into Handmaids, and they must serve the Commanders by giving them the ability to reproduce.
The Handmaid's Tale plays on the deep fears and dark truths that hide within our society, today. The idea that religion can overrun politics, and that men can still do terribly evil things in the name of progress, is beyond chilling. When you look around the world, even at our own country, these themes are played out in smaller - but growing - instances. A rich young man is let off of the hook after raping an innocent woman; smaller sections of our government are using the law to keep women from the simplest of healthcare resources; The Handmaids Tale makes these issues seem less like political arguments, and more like signs of horrible things to come.
The interesting thing about the series is how it's accessible to both genders. It obviously hits primarily on female fears, but it manages to strike pain into the hearts of men as well. When we see the horrible things that a man can do - while still championing the names of progress and responsibility - it causes a stomach-churning effect that we can't escape. The trouble is, with a show this good, we don't want to turn away.
Much of the poetry and symbolism in The Handmaid's Tale is written into the story itself, but it would be nothing without the devastating bravery of Elizabeth Moss' performance. Moss faces the horrors of this new world head on, and she isn't afraid to let the audience truly infiltrate her mind. It's difficult to be strong and broken at the same time, but Moss pulls it off with utter perfection. After just one episode, you will never think of her as "Peggy from Mad Men" ever again. Seriously, this is exceptional work.
Moss is easily the stand-out performer, but doesn't stand alone in this talented cast. Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley, Joseph Fiennes, and Madeline Brewer all bring their A-Game, and force viewers to truly believe they're experiencing this dystopia.
You may believe that The Handmaid's Tale isn't "your thing" - and that makes sense. Whether you feel the show is too feminine, too conservative, too dark, or just too controversial for you, it's okay to judge these kinds of books by their covers. But don't let that judgement stop you: embody the true essence of this series, and let yourself dive into an uncomfortable, unfamiliar circumstance. You won't regret it.
I dare say that this series alone is worth the cost of Hulu, as it shouldn't be missed. For when the dust settles, and we look back at this decade of television, The Handmaid's Tale will be remembered as one of the best. Don't let it pass you by.
The Handmaid's Tale Official Score: 5/5 Stars