The Handmaid’s Tale – Offred

For Margaret Atwood fans, The Handmaid’s Tale is a work of genius.

If you took a Women’s Studies course in high school or college, you probably read it.  If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, you probably read it.  It’s almost sacrilegious to touch and try to adapt, and oh, Hollywood tried, poorly.

Hollywood is taking another stab at it with Hulu’s adaptation starring Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Joseph Finnes (Shakespeare in Love), Yvonne Strahvoski (Chuck), Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls), Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black), and Max Minghella (much to Rebecca’s dismay that Tom Hardy isn’t cast – more on that later.)

If the first episode is indicative of what is to come, we are in for a treat.  We may not sleep well at night after watching.  We may question everything and every move those in power make.  But damn, this is good.

What We Loved About The Handmaid’s Tale  – Offred

 1. Dialogue was ripped from the pages of the novel.

Maragret Atwood’s WORDS were SPOKEN on SCREEN!  As a total Atwood fan girl, Chris was ecstatic to hear her words spoken perfectly by Elisabeth Moss.  Much of the dialogue was pulled from Atwood’s own creation, and if you’ve followed Chris’s Shadowhunters blog you’ll understand how satisfying that is for readers.

2. Elisabeth Moss is killin’ it.

Brilliant job of acting with subtle quirks of the mouth and a look from her eyes.  This is an Offred we’re excited to watch.  Also, total side note, I love that her name is Offred – Of Fred – but really Off Red, unlike the red gowns she’s forced to wear.

3. Packing in the details.

We were surprised by how much plot was in episode one.  In fact, they raced through more than a third of the novel, yet managed to keep it streamline, smoothly paced, and understandable.  The novel has lots of inner dialogue (some we got to hear) and beautiful descriptions, which are easily summed up by the costumes.

While we are mentioning costumes, can we point out how perfect the white wings were?  If you look at the popular cover for the novel, they are literally weird wings going up from their bonnets.  But the book clearly depicts them as blinders.  The TV show got it right. handmaid

4. Voiceover

This is one of the few times voiceover is not only warranted, but it wouldn’t work without it.  In the book, Offred is defined by the gap between what she is allowed to say, and what she thinks.  Hearing her swear in her head felt like a private revolt against the The Republic of Gilead that we were privledged to be a part of.

5. Margaret Atwood’s Cameo!

margaret-atwood-ap-imgDid you see it!!  She totally bitch slapped Elisabeth Moss!  We were texting each other immediately – geeking out.

6. You Don’t Own Me

Rebecca summed up the song over the end credits with one word: Genius.

What surprised us about the episode.

1. Janine was cray-cray.

Rebecca found plucking out her eye intense.  Chris found her reaction and insanity to the world more disturbing.the-handmaids-tale-trailer-00

2. Ofglen outed so soon.

It happened fast, but it helped establish more about their lives before without too much voiceover.

3. Serena Joy is young.

yvonne-strahovski-as-serena-joyWe could talk about casting young, pretty women in roles vs. middle-aged actors, but this casting choice actually makes sense.  In the book, it almost feels like they can’t have kids because they’re just too old.  With the age choice in the show, it definite feels like she is sterile.

4. “There’s an Eye in your house.”

This isn’t revealed until near the end of the novel, so bumping it up to the first episode was a surprise.  It does provide tension in an already cut-with-a-knife household.  However, some may be left wondering what is “an Eye.”

5. “My name is June.”

Interesting choice for book that intentionally left out the main character’s name…

What Rebecca Can’t Get Over

Sorry, but Max Minghella (Nick) was not who I would’ve cast.  I need to get used to him.  I was picturing a Tom Hardy grab-me-in-the-dark-and-take-me kind of guy.  the-handmaids-tale-max-minghella

Chris is willing to give Max a chance, but now that I’ve put Tom Hardy in her head it may be hard!

 Photos courtesy of Hulu, MGM Television, and AP Images/Sthanlee B. Mirador.

Follow us on Twitter: Chris @ACCooksonWriter and Rebecca @DownWorldNovel.

Like our Facebook page Novel2Screen for more updates on your favorite novel-to-screen adaptations, including soon to come weekly recaps of The Handmaid’s Tale and interviews!  

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