TELEVISION REVIEW: "The Handmaid's Tale" Is Important, Which Means It Has to Do Better [PREVIEW]

The Handmaid's Tale was not an easy show to watch by any means. What in the original novel had been told (effectively) became shown so brutally and viscerally, creating a downright haunting feeling that lingered long after I closed the laptop screen and continued the rest of my day. Needless to say, The Handmaid's Tale is not a show for the faint of heart to chance watching at night, and I imagine the effect would have been magnified if the show had aired evenings on a network or cable show, like the once-standard but now increasingly obsolete mode of watching television. Watching  it on a laptop actually mimicked reading the book in typical codex form, in a way, because the idea is that you close the book shut, or the laptop, and then are able to return to the real world and do whatever it is you have to do next, allowing a clear physical "switching-off" action to delineate the bounds of reality and fiction.
But the important thing to remember with The Handmaid's Tale that I didn't really address properly in my first review of the show--to that piece's detriment--is that while the events and story themselves are fictional, Margaret Atwood has famously stated that she didn't make anything up for the book. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in April 2017, she said: "I didn't put anything into the book that has not happened sometime, somewhere. Or wasn't happening then and isn't happening now [...] I started from what I was collecting and seeing." Because while it might, to some eyes, literally look different enough from anything based in reality--the Handmaids' blood-red uniforms (and the clothed class system in general); the lack of children out and about on the streets--the horrifying society of Gilead is pieced together from systems that are real. So when I wrote that The Handmaid's Tale was "unfathomable," that really said more about me than about the show. Writers of color, among them the incredible Angelica Jade BastiĆ©n of Vulture, have opined that The Handmaid's Tale lifts, wholesale, what actually happened to African-American women in the United States under slavery, and reframes it as a shocking, unimaginable dystopia by centering the story on the white women for whom the ingrained historical systems of ownership, subjugation, and rape were never a lived reality...

You can read the rest of this review on PopMatters.