The Handmaid's Tale: The Moments that Gave us Pause
Major western allies had trouble processing the horrors of World War II. They saw legions of guards feeding the gas chambers while the ashes of human remains fell from chimney stacks like snow. It confused them. How could anyone willingly take part in this madness? What about reason and compassion? Couldn't they understand what they were doing? The reigning sentiment at that time was racist. There must've been something wrong with 'those people.'
Forward thinkers realized that the truth was much more complex, and they decided that the public needed to be educated. That's why books like 1984 and Brave New World were published. The authors wanted to prevent the rise of another dictatorship. The Handmaid's Tale was meant to carry on that tradition. Margaret Atwood wanted to reach people, and like her predecessors, she understood that logic wouldn't be enough. When it comes to these matters, people don't think clearly. They feel. That's why fear was such a popular tactic. It's located in the deepest recesses of our psyche--the reptile brain, where hysteria and extremism take root. But Atwood didn't stop with fear. She created a symphony of emotionally driven imagery, designed to pull us into the experience. We didn't read about Offred; we became Offred, and in turn, we became a citizen of a fascist regime. We knew what their lives were like, what they felt, and how they thought. It was an immersive experience.
The series saw what she had accomplished, and they built on it. They focused their energy on transporting the audience into June's perspective. We became her. We lived Gilead through her eyes--all of the drama, the pain, and desperation; the result was awe-inspiring. Most fans can point to a specific moment in the series that gave them pause--something so moving we had to take a step back and catch our breath. It's different for everyone, of course. It would be impossible to capture five years of gut-wrenching pathos. But that type of skill still deserves to be celebrated and honored. We should give the show's creators the recognition they deserve. That's what this list is for.