Hulu's tele-drama, The Handmaid’s tale, has returned for its third season.
Based on the dystopian novel of the same name by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, the show's previous seasons have proved immensely popular with audiences in the American subcontinent and globally as well, winning several awards such as the primetime Emmy for outstanding drama series (2017) and Golden Globe for best television series (2018).
But what is it that makes the show stand out? Here, we break it down for you.
Set in a futuristic America, The Handmaid's Tale gives us a sneak peak into what a religiously fundamentalist United States looks like for its citizens, more importantly, its women.
The show's plotline portrays a scenario where some 'religious right-wing theocratic' officials have suspended the constitution of the country and taken complete control.
Women are no longer allowed to work, study or even read, and fertile women have been forced to become “handmaids” to their commanders and their infertile wives, to help them bear children and combat the receding population of the country.
Not only does women’s rights come under attack, LGBTQ rights are given the short shrift too in a show, where being ‘gay’ and/or marrying someone of the same gender is a punishable offence. People are bound to be invested in such a thought-evoking plot, are they not?
Why is it relevant right now?
The current political situation in the United States - with the right on the rise and with incumbent American President Donald Trump making many gender insensitive remarks - has not only resulted in various women’s marches across the country since he took oath, but also helped the show gain in popularity.
The show acts as a reality check of what the future might look like and why it might end up being dreadful even though that may not have been the original intention since the novel was written 34 years ago.
Most recently, the anti-abortion bill that was passed in the American state of Alabama, banning legal abortions and punishing the doctors found guilty of performing them with up to 99 years in prison, has acted as a major trigger and helped people connect with the show's projection of reel-to-almost-real events.
The legislation bans abortion in nearly all circumstances, including rape and incest. The only exception to the ban are cases in which a woman's health is at serious risk.
Other restrictive bans have also been passed in American states of Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio.
Meanwhile, South Carolina is halfway towards passing a fetal heartbeat law. Other states, including Maryland, Minnesota, Texas and West Virginia, are also considering abortion restrictions.
To voice their concerns against these bans, citizens across the United States have been protesting incessantly and many have also worn the famous 'red cloak' costume worn by the handmaids in the show, to highlight their plight.
The fact that the current American political climate has left many at unease, makes the show’s story more impactful and raises the stakes immensely for its third season.