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The Handmaid’s Story’s reward is prescience. From Margaret Atwood’s 1985 ebook being a harbinger of the conservative politics of the Reagan period, to the Hulu present’s eerie echoes of Donald Trump’s presidency, each incarnation speaks to the era that receives it.
The present season of The Handmaid’s Story, which launched Wednesday, features fairly the identical. The totalitarian theocracy of Gilead nonetheless appears like an America the place the nation’s puritanical politics have run amok. Its antihero protagonist June (Elisabeth Moss) nonetheless serves as a stand-in for any lady who has seen her autonomy stripped away, and an avatar for the anger they really feel when it’s. All the parallels that existed in seasons previous between Handmaids and trendy girls looking for self-determination are nonetheless there. But, within the present’s fourth season, it’s the nuances—the delicate grief, the misplaced moments—that hit the toughest.
The rationale for that is easy: The finale of the sequence’ earlier season aired in August 2019, roughly 4 months earlier than Covid-19 emerged, practically seven months earlier than the lockdowns within the US, and what seems like a lifetime earlier than the second we’re in now. The final season existed in a world earlier than quarantine, earlier than social distancing, earlier than a pandemic turned face masks into one thing to be fought over. Put bluntly, it occurred earlier than our present disaster. The Handmaid’s Story has all the time felt related as a result of it takes systemic points like reproductive freedom and LGBTQ+ rights and provides them faces, narratives—and villains to be overthrown. Like somebody checked out patriarchy and mentioned “pc, improve.” However as this present season rolls out, its grit lies in the way in which folks cope.
To be clear, nothing about residing with a pandemic is like residing in a totalitarian society. Not likely. The ladies of Gilead confront torture and indignities far faraway from day-to-day life in lockdown. But, one of many underlying themes of the present has all the time been how grief and trauma change folks, push them to do issues they wouldn’t usually do. Present beneath fixed menace—whether or not it is from the federal government or a previously unknown virus—produces anxieties and ranges of dread that have to be endured, survived. In Covid-19 instances, these realities have manifested in all the pieces from fights over getting vaccinated to dealing with the large disparities during which teams are being hardest hit by the virus. Our social contracts had been by no means splendid to start with, however they’ve been massively disrupted during the last 12 months. And watching Handmaid’s Story, it’s onerous to not recall how shortly communities can come collectively, or disintegrate, when confronted with adversity.
That is maybe most acutely witnessed within the lives of people that aren’t June. Throughout Season 4’s first three episodes—those that dropped this week—when the motion cuts away from Gilead, it shifts to Toronto, the place her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) and greatest good friend Moira (Samira Wiley) are main the efforts to rescue folks from their authoritarian neighbor to the south. Luke holds out hope that June will in the future be free, but in addition questions why she’s chosen to remain and combat when she may’ve escaped. Moira and Emily (Alexis Bledel), each of whom did get out of Gilead with June’s assist, battle with survivors’ guilt. They’re confronted with transferring on with their lives whereas realizing others can’t and that the disparities between Canada and Gilead are huge. In different instances, such moments won’t have stood out; watching them now, it is onerous to not see parallels to those that have acquired the Covid-19 vaccine and perhaps by no means had Covid. They will transfer on, however they accomplish that realizing not everybody strikes with them.