A chilling portrait of a patriarchal dictatorship where women are routinely raped, mutilated and forcibly separated from their children, The Handmaid’s Tale sometimes proves tough to stomach.
The season three of the Emmy Award-winning series premiers on the streaming service Hulu on June 12 featuring a fictional American state of Gilead as seemingly mantic as ever.
Handmaid June, played by Elisabeth Moss, has turned down a rare chance to escape Gilead with her newborn. Instead, she decides to stay and fight back against a society where women are banned from reading and writing and are forced into servitude.
The third season follows the last year’s second season which contained scenes of beatings, hangings and rape that many viewers found to be very grim. Bruce Miller, creator and executive producer of the television series based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, stresses that he is “not in the business of inventing cruelties.”
“I am not interested in putting the audience through torture. I try to only show the things that we need to see to understand where June is emotionally and mentally,” he said. “What I am trying to do is tell the story of June’s survival and victory and it’s a long, slow slog.”
The season begins as women, wearing distinctive red gowns and white bonnets, in the United States protest against laws in 11 US states that restrict abortion. The last season had coincided with a crackdown on illegal immigration at the US-Mexico border that separated parents and children. While the theme of season three is rebellion, Miller said there is no quick fix.
“We want to show what a hero really looks like - someone who is stubborn. They get knocked down; they get bruised, and they pick themselves up and try again,” Miller said. He added that direct parallels between the television series and current world events are unintentional. But Atwood has said that all the events in her book were drawn from history.
“We try to come up with what could happen in Gilead ... (But) if you’re going to make television that is tied to the real world, it’s going to be as disquieting as the political turmoil the world seem to be going through right now,” he said.