Home » Religion and Politics Meet Horror: Hulu to Release New Adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale

Religion and Politics Meet Horror: Hulu to Release New Adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale

Imagine a world where the rights of all women have been completely stripped away. Women are reduced to one of few roles, all centered around fertility and becoming subservient to men. Well, white upper-class men anyway. The highest role a woman can achieve is as a wife. As a wife, she has the highest rank in the house and determines the fate of any other women in the house. The next role is Aunt. As an aunt, these women teach the handmaids the “proper” place of women. Next comes the position of the housekeeper known as a Martha. Finally, a Handmaid is a still fertile woman whose role is simply to have sex with the husband of a wife in order to produce a child. Unless able to conceive, she is looked down upon with nothing but contempt. If she does not succeed, then her own life is at stake.

In collaboration with MGM TV, Hulu has announced the upcoming production of The Handmaid’s Tale based on the 1985 award-winning novel by Margaret Atwood. Elisabeth Moss is set to play Offred, the handmaid. Offred (meaning “of Fred” to whom she now belongs, having no real name herself) is a former librarian forced to pretend acceptance of her new role in life. She is at the mercy of those around her who could at any time report her to authorities should she not do everything they ask.


This future finds religious fanatics taking control of government to impose their own militant ideas of how the world should be run. Spun on by low fertility, these fanatics force the women into these roles. They base the idea of handmaids on the biblical stories of Rachel and Leah and how these women used their own handmaids to bear children they would call their own. Anyone protesting this idea shall be executed. Anyone not fitting into the gender roles provided shall be executed. As the story unfolds, it is truly scary to find out how easily these actions are carried out and how effortlessly the rights of citizens, particularly women, can be taken away. Should Offred fail to become pregnant, she alone will be blamed as failing in her role as a woman. Nothing can be blamed on men. It is a world where putting trust in anyone could mean her own death.

In a press release, Margaret Atwood is quoted as saying: “”I am thrilled that MGM and Hulu are developing The Handmaid’s Tale as a series, and extra thrilled that the very talented Elisabeth Moss will be playing the central character.  The Handmaid’s Tale is more relevant now than when it was written, and I am sure the series will be watched with great interest.  I have read the first two scripts and they are excellent; I can hardly wait to see the finished episodes.”

It is not a slasher film, haunted house, or paranormal story. The horror of The Handmaid’s Tale is in its observation on the darker nature of humankind. The way in which fear mixed with a rigid belief system can bring about such repugnant and detestable behavior. Especially considering that everything in the story is a part of humankind’s history and has occurred at one time or another. It resembles Nazi Germany mixed with the oppression of women in areas of the Middle East. The handmaid is forced to wear outfits to cover her whole body so as to not promote temptation from others. She is taught not to make eye contact with others. She is taught to forget her own name and previous life. For her, life is only to bear children and with all other women, bow down to men. The novel has been adapted in several mediums including a feature film in 1990 starring Faye Dunaway, Natasha Richardson, and Robert Duvall.

The series’ first episode will be available via the streaming content provider sometime in 2017.

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Written by Justin Steele
Justin Steele is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. His focus was the representation of women and minorities in contemporary media. In addition to writing, he hosts the 411popCulture channel on YouTube. He enjoys Rep Theatre and once performed on Broadway. He currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his 15-year-old cat. He is a die-hard horror fan with a particular affinity for slasher films.
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