Last night we watched the first two episodes of season two of The Handmaid’s Tale, the Hulu television series based on the book by Margaret Atwood. It’s a deeply troubling story about an ultraconservative revolution that overthrows the US government and, among their other bad attributes, literally enslaves fertile women, forcing them to bear children through ritualized rape.
The series has been flashing back to the life the main character, June, had before the overthrow. The flashbacks are almost more troubling to me than the story of what comes after, because the characters couldn’t see the overthrow coming even though the signs of increasing, radically conservative thought that pervade their society seem so obvious to the watcher, and yet I see a lot of the same signs in our real world right now that make us shake our heads and say, “What the hell?” but we do nothing about it because we deny to ourselves that it can get as bad as the ultraconservative society portrayed in the television show. When you’re living in a dystopia, at what point do you face reality and say, that’s it, I’m out?