We’re not Hulu subscribers, so when everyone heaped praise upon The Handmaid’s Tale, we had to wait until it came out on disc to experience it for ourselves.
We were able to finally watch it a few months ago, and we can attest that it deserved all of the acclimation it received. Sure, it was intense, disturbing, and fraught with modern day political implications, but the sheer skill in terms of writing, acting, and production could not be denied.
In fact, the series impressed me so much that I immediately found the book and read it as well. To my surprise, the first season of the show followed the book very closely. The only aspect of the book the series did not cover pertained to the final ten or fifteen pages.
I presumed the second season would tackle those last pages of the novel.
I could not have been more wrong … so far.
The second season of The Handmaid’s Tale blazes its own trail by adding original material to the classic Margaret Atwood novel. It’s serving as something of a sequel to the book as it continues Offred’s plight, the Waterford’s tyranny, and the general awfulness of a place like Gilead.
However, they’ve managed to up the stakes this season. It’s become even more tense, more unsettling, and more … well, horrific.
Honestly, my wife and I watched episode eleven (of thirteen) last night, and we both decided that this season will be our last. Yes, we’ll finish it out, but we agreed that neither of us wants to infiltrate Gilead’s boundaries anymore.
Minor spoilers here–with Offred’s complicated pregnancy and a heart-wrenching story line revolving around her first daughter, as well as an extremely frightening scene depicting rape … it’s too much. This dystopian society of Gilead has become too real.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to retreat from a show. Back in 2014, The Walking Dead began killing children every week and threatening to kill an infant, so I had to quit it, too. Our real world is scary enough. We see enough tragedy on a daily basis in our reality. I can’t deal with this level of calamity on a show, too.
In the end, when I watch a show, see a movie, or read a book, I’m engaging in a certain amount of escapism. I cannot, for a sustained amount of time, feel extremely depressed after watching a show. Every once in a while is manageable, but every episode of an entire season? Maybe it’s not as potent if watching it on a weekly basis, but we’re watching an episode a night, and it’s absolutely altering my overall mood.
The Handmaid’s Tale crossed a line in my mind. I understand children are the driving force of the entire premise, but by bringing them front and center, and by teasing their exploitation and abuse on a regular basis, in addition to the constant barrage of violence against powerless women … Again, it’s too much.
This second season is too blunt, too graphic, and too ruthless. I found the first season, though very troubling, a little more nuanced, poignant, and purposeful.
I think the show and the book both serve as a significant warning against people manipulating religious and political beliefs for their own personal glorification, and I believe The Handmaid’s Tale inspires us to hold firm onto our own morals even in the face of rampant corruption, but I simply can’t partake in such abasement as a means of escapism any longer.
(Did you enjoy this article? Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)