The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood's searing novel, was written at the height of the Reagan administration and satirized political, social, and religious trends of the 1980s. It's also a hit television series on Hulu that returns on June 5.
While we still have a long way to go before we can find out what's next for June/Offred in the Republic of Gilead, we can, at the very least, regale you with some cool facts about one of the most enduring stories of the last three decades.
The Trailer for Season 3 Plays Off a Slogan from the Reagan Era
Perhaps the best thing that came out of the Super Bowl––aside from the memes haggling Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, that is––was the trailer for the third season of the Hulu series.
The trailer lampoons former President Ronald Regan's 1984 "Morning in America" political campaign television commercial.
"It's morning again in America," you hear over a soundtrack and images that resound with boundless optimism. Things turn dark from there. Soon the camera freezes on Elisabeth Moss's face: "Wake up, America," she says.
Margaret Atwood's Follow-Up Will Be Released Later This Year
Margaret Atwood will release a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale titled The Testaments in September 2019. The Testaments is unconnected to Hulu's adaptation and will feature the testimonials of three female narrators from Gilead.
This literary device keeps with the metafictional epilogue that follows Offred's story in the original novel. The novel ends much in the way Season 1 ends: with Offred entering the van at Nick's insistence. The epilogue explains how the events of the novel were recorded onto cassette tapes after the beginning of what scholars have come to describe as "The Gilead Period." An interview with a noted academic implies that a more equitable society, one with full rights for women and freedom of religion restored, emerged following the collapse of the Republic of Gilead.
Serena Joy Waterford Is Likely Based On A Noted Conservative Activist
As the series goes on, we learn more about Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) and her beginnings.
Serena was a conservative activist who, along with her husband Fred, spearheaded the Puritan movement that ultimately gave rise to Gilead. Inspired by women whom she perceives to have "abandoned" their families in the name of female autonomy, Serena Joy delivers impassioned speeches at venues around the nation calling for policies that would place women back in the home. She even wrote a bestselling book, A Woman's Place, that served as the vessel for much of her conservative dogma and inspired many of the Commander's Wives who become her friends and neighbors.
Serena was likely based on conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, who established herself over many years as one of the fiercest antifeminist and anti-abortion advocates in the United States. Schlafly was also a vociferous opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, which she considered an attack against traditional gender roles.
The 1990 Film Adaptation Had a Messy Production
A film version of The Handmaid's Tale was released in 1990. It starred Natasha Richardson as Offred, Faye Dunaway as Serena Joy, Robert Duvall as Commander Waterford, Aidan Quinn as Nick, Victoria Tennant as Aunt Lydia, and Elizabeth McGovern as Moira.
The film was not well received and had a messy production. Director Volker Schlöndorff replaced original director Karel Reisz amid internal bickering over a screenplay by Harold Pinter. Schlöndorff asked for rewrites, and Pinter, who was reluctant to do them, directed him to author Margaret Atwood, who was one of several who ended up making changes to Pinter's screenplay.
Pinter told his biographer years later [as quoted in Harold Printer, p. 304] that:
It became … a hotchpotch. The whole thing fell between several shoots. I worked with Karel Reisz on it for about a year. There are big public scenes in the story and Karel wanted to do them with thousands of people. The film company wouldn't sanction that so he withdrew. At which point Volker Schlondorff came into it as director. He wanted to work with me on the script, but I said I was absolutely exhausted. I more or less said, 'Do what you like. There's the script. Why not go back to the original author if you want to fiddle about?' He did go to the original author. And then the actors came into it. I left my name on the film because there was enough there to warrant it—just about. But it's not mine'.
Star Natasha Richardson reportedly felt "cast adrift" when much of Offred's interior monologue was sacrificed as a result of cuts made to the screenplay.
The Film and TV Series Aren't The Only Adaptations of This Seminal Work
There are several different adaptations of Atwood's seminal work, including, but not limited to:
- an audiobook read by Homeland actress Claire Danes that won the 2013 Audie Award for Fiction
- a concept album by Canadian band Lakes of Canada
- a radio adaptation produced in 2000 for BBC Radio 4
- an operatic adaptation that premiered in 2000 and was the opening production of the 2004–2005 season of the Canadian Opera Company.
Elisabeth Moss, the Star of the Hulu Series, is a Scientologist
Between The West Wing, Mad Men, Top of the Lake, and The Handmaid's Tale, Elisabeth Moss has a reputation for starring in critically acclaimed television shows.
Much has been made, however, of her casting as Offred. Moss was born into the Scientologist belief system, which the German government has classified as an "anti-constitutional sect," the French government has classified as a cult, and the American government has allowed individuals to practice freely though not without considerable contention. Moss also identifies as a feminist.
Asked by a fan about the parallels between Gilead and Scientology (namely the belief that "outside forces" are inherently "evil") Moss responded:
"That's actually not true at all about Scientology. Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me. The most important things to me probably. And so Gilead and THT hit me on a very personal level."
An Episode During Season 2 Highlighted President Donald Trump's Border Crisis
Last summer, President Donald Trump and his administration created a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border when he and Jeff Sessions, his former attorney general, announced their "zero tolerance" family separations policy. The president blamed Democrats for the policy, imploring them to "start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration."
As images and stories of children ripped away from their parents at the border began to circulate, the Season 2 episode "The Last Ceremony" showed just how timely the show really is: After Offred is raped by the Waterfords, Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) allows June/Offred (Elisabeth Moss) to visit her daughter, Hannah, in an undisclosed location. June is given 10 minutes with her daughter before a guard forcibly separates them again.
The episode, written well before the crisis was initiated, premiered just as Homeland Security admitted that more than 2,300 children had been separated from their parents.
Another Episode During Season 2 Appeared to Predict Canada-U.S. Relations
The fallout between the United States and Canada during the G7 summit appeared to have reached its peak once President Donald Trump refused to sign a joint statement with America's allies and threatened to escalate a trade war between America's neighbors. He also referred to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as "weak."
The Season 2 episode "Smart Power"––in which Canadian diplomats ban Gilead's representatives from the country and choose to stand with the women imprisoned in the totalitarian nation in a nod to the #MeToo movement––was written and premiered before the G7 blowup, but is no less prophetic.
In Season 2, Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" Becomes an Ode to Female Resilience
"This Woman's Work," a ballad written by singer Kate Bush that is also one of the tracks on her 1989 album The Sensual World, serves as an ode to female power and resistance in the horrifying Season 2 opener, where June and the other handmaids realize they're about to be executed. The women are forced to summon strength at a moment of debilitating weakness. As the camera pans over the bleak environs of Fenway Stadium, Bush starts to sing:
Pray God you can cope
I'll stand outside
This woman's work
This woman's world
Ooooh it's hard on a man
Now his part is over
Now starts the craft of the FatherI
know you've got a little life in you left
I know you've got a lot of strength left
I know you've got a little life in you yet
I know you've got a lot of strength left
I should be crying but I just can't let it show
I should be hoping but I can't stop thinking
All the things we should've said that I never said
All the things we should have done that we never did
All the things we should have given but I didn't
Oh darling make it go
Make it go away
"It was shattering and perfect," said Bruce Miller, who created the Hulu Handmaid's Tale adaptation. "One of the things I really like about the song is that on its face, there's a bit of very interesting lyrical play. It's nice that that's going on while you're watching."
"The Handmaid's Tale" Was the First Streamed Series to Win the Best Drama Series Emmy
Hulu beat out Netflix and Amazon to become the first streaming service to win an Emmy for Best Drama. Unfortunately, because the third season doesn't premiere until June 5, it's ineligible for the 2019 Emmys. Guess we'll see the show back onstage in 2020!
People typically think of cannabis legalization as one of those cut and dry things.
If you don't use marijuana, you probably don't want to legalize it.
If you do use marijuana, you are probably pro-legalization.
... except it's not that simple.
Reddit user SaifurCloudstrife asked:
"Redditors opposed to marijuana legalization and decriminalization: Why?"
Normally when these types of questions are asked, you get a bunch of people who are pro-the-thing chiming in and that absolutely happened here.
Interestingly, that opened up discourse that got people actually talking—probably more than they normally would have. The constant back and forth helped people get down to the core of their beliefs and reasons.
I can't say minds or hearts were changed, or even that people had particularly good reasons (and there were some not-great counter arguments, let's be real) when it came right down to it, but conversations were certainly had...
"It's a drug."
"I have two examples in my close family that clearly show how devastating pot can be. This attitude to marijuana reminds me of the attitude towards cocaine in the mid to late seventies when everyone thought it was harmless 'nose candy.' "
"I'm against sentences for drug possession but many people would benefit from dealers serving 3-5 for selling pot."
"Honestly, I think everyone against it should come to Canada for a visit. It's been legal here for 4 years and absolutely NONE of the spooky stories have come true."
"The only real differences is that people buy their weed in nice, clean stores with clear labels and not on street corners and our tax dollars don't go towards harassing people for a weekend indulgence."Giphy
"It stinks and makes people lazy."
"And often the weed smokers don't care if they are a pain in the butt to others and that kind of apathy is a huge no for me."Giphy
"I live in WA, where rec weed is legal."
"I rarely ever smell pot smoke. And I have the nose of a bloodhound."
"Yes, more often than as a teen when it was still illegal, but far less than any amount to be pro-prohibition about it."
"Plus, I mean, there's lots of smells I f*cking hate but wouldn't enact harmful laws over- Axe body spray being one."
"Laws can be made regarding where you can smoke."
"In Australia you can't smoke inside or within a certain distance to entryways. The only space you smell smoke is at an outdoor pub, designated smoking areas and occasionally when walking."
"It took years, but people become accustomed to new rules. Knowing Americans though, you guys will be on the brink of civil war if they brought in similar restrictions."
It's TOO Good
"I've read that the potency in pot these days is a hell of a lot stronger compared to say 20 or 30 yrs ago."
"The huge increase in THC levels should be a huge concern for people. The pot being legalized today is not the same I smoked when I was much younger."
"This argument has been rolled out again and again since I was in elementary school (~30 years ago) and I never understood it."
"THC is remarkably non-toxic, it's so much less toxic than many common substances people ingest on a regular basis (aspirin, and plenty of other OTC meds, as examples), to the point where actual THC toxicity is caused by physical rather than chemical/metabolic actions."
"Smoked cannabis is also much easier to titrate (dose appropriately), since the effects are nearly instantaneous - take a couple hits and you'll know if you've had enough within seconds."Giphy
"As opposed to an accidental edible overdose where you might not know for a couple hours that you've taken a heroic dose."
"So a higher % of THC by weight in cannabis flower shouldn't be an issue, especially considering that back in D.A.R.E. they used to tell us that smoking cannabis was SO MUCH WORSE than smoking tobacco."
"Cannabis was supposedly so much 'harsher,' one joint contains 'toxins' equivalent to an entire pack of cigs, etc...which is total bull, but even if that were true...wouldn't that mean that stronger cannabis is less harmful, since you don't have to smoke so much to achieve the desired effect?"
"Can't have it both ways."
It is high potency because it is illegal. It's easier to transport a half pound of skunk than 10 pounds of trash weed."
"Look at states that have legalized. There are low thc strains available and easily accessible."
"Because dipsh*ts will start smoking it in public places where others can not really avoid it, like is the case with cigarettes currently."
"Also yes: F*ck cigarettes."
"Yep my problem is drugs in public."
"I do not care if you do drugs as long as your doing them in a private place. I don't want to breathe in your smoke and get lung cancer."
"I don't especially care what folks get up to on their own, it's when they make everyone around them a participant that it aggravates me."
"Plus, depending on the setting, it's really inconsiderate."
"I have a friend whose job does random drug testing and he left a bar because a bunch of folks were smoking inside and he was worried about work."Giphy
Go Away, Government!
"I'm for legalization but as someone that worked for corporate cannabis, I'd loathe seeing those scums run the market."
"My state Governor tried writing a recreational cannabis bill on their own terms since we are surrounded by recreational territories."
"They stated they didn't want it to lead to a ballot measure because that's worst case scenario (didnt think voters were educated) than proceeded to write the most comically bad legalization bill that existed - before completely dropping it because they couldn't write a competent law."
"I am about as anti pot as they come, but if they are going to legalize it, why wouldn't they make it legal to grow your own? (Rhetorical- I know the answer… same reason "they" are legalizing it… tax money)"
"This is what I am screaming. For them it's only about money."
"They are waiting for the rich to install a profit making infrastructure before they let us peasants enjoy anything."Giphy
"If I had any good reason it's because idiots insist it's not addictive and it doesn't impede your senses. So they drive and do dangerous sh*t while high."
"My issue isn't the severity of the impediment. It's that people refuse to admit that it does alter the mind."
"I already have one person insist they smoke weed and drive because they know their body."
"Now imagine if someone openly said that about alcohol and how you'd react. It's a really dumb mentality to have."
"If anything I'd push for it to be illegalized ALONG WITH alcohol and cigarettes."
"But prohibition taught us that is not the way to go."Giphy
The Same Path As Alcohol
"I believe that if it was legalized, it would become a much bigger part in society, much like how alcohol is now."
"I do have a problem with public drinking and personally view alcohol as much worse compared to marijuana."
"However, since drinking is already so ingrained in our society, it's not like we can get rid of it. I'm just hoping that weed doesn't follow in the same path as alcohol."Giphy
"Im so sick of all these CBD oil pyramid schemes popping up!"
"The testimonials are all, 'I broke my spine in half and had to get it surgically fused together. Now all I have to do is rub a drop of CBD on it, and the pain is gone!' "
"And I'm not against it, I actually use high grade CBD at night to help me sleep. I fucking hate going through a rep though, they always try to hard sell me on topical CBD for my back pain that's like $80 for a little jar, or $30 bath bombs."
"I have discs squeezing out of my spine, I'm pretty sure a dab of hemp oil is gonna do jack shit for that."
"And the cancer patient abuse!"
"Smoking or ingesting edibles with THC for pain management and appetite is super helpful for cancer patients, but cbd wont do anything. Not to mention getting an ounce of good weed wont set you back much, but getting a tiny vial of cbd can set you back a couple hundred bucks."
"With our healthcare system in the states, we know damn well cancer patients are already in a hole of debt. I'm worried legalizing will encourage these CBD lies."
"It's the new snake oil."
"My MIL is that person. She's was touting its Indica strains ability to outright cure cancer the last I saw her."
"Cancer patients get hit very hard with the cannabis oil scams. What kind of evil sh*t do you need to be to take advantage of desperate people?"
"I agree with you about people thinking its the grand cure all, but that's why I feel we SHOULD legalize."
"The main reason I want it legalize is so they can do more research on the things it does help. It's effect on tremors alone is fascinating."Giphy
So what have we really learned here? I'm not really certain.
Lots of people's reasons seemed under-informed, but just as many people had legitimate concerns.
Sure, those concerns could just as easily be applied to alcohol, but lots of Redditors admitted that and seemed to take LARGER issue with alcohol than cannabis. It was honestly difficult to find anyone (aside from the smell people) who was 100% against it.
And that, dear reader, is possibly the biggest takeaway from this. Attitudes are changing.
Sorry, D.A.R.E.—looks like we said yes to drugs. Well, cannabis at least.
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Chosen family is family. Sometimes they are the closest and most important family. Just because you share blood with someone, doesn't mean you have to form a bond.
That's why best friends are so important.
BFFs are forged in many ways. They're there for you in triumph and sorrow. They hold your hand. T
They know where the bodies are buried because they helped bury them. That's why it's so heartbreaking to lose them.
It's just a bitter pill to swallow when it's a relationship you thought was going to be endless.
Redditor FindingDale wanted to hear all the reasons why sometimes we just have to say goodbye to certain people in life, by asking:
How did you lose your best friend?
I've lost a few besties. Some through death. Some through personal growth and some just because it was time. That was an important lesson. Just like lovers, friends also outgrow one another.
I'm ExhaustedI Cant Modern Family GIF by HULUGiphy
"I got tired of it being all about her all of the time. I couldn't tell her anything in my life good or bad because she would make it about herself." ~ Wide-Fig-1063
"He was the passenger in a single-car accident. The driver was drunk, showing off, and drifting on an unfamiliar dirt road in California. They found the car at the bottom of a 70-foot cliff. Everyone in the car walked away except my friend, who died instantly."
"He was already passed out drunk himself so he likely didn't feel anything, but it was still such a terrible senseless way to go. That was 10 years ago last June. He was barely 21, the nicest guy you'd ever meet, and one hell of a bassist. Miss ya, Jake." ~ FormerLurker3
"Best friends since we were 12. Best Man at my wedding when we were 28. Day after the wedding he never spoke to me again. No explanation. Calls and texts went unanswered. He would avoid being at any social event I would be at, which was a few because we had the same circle of friends. Tried for two years to keep that friendship alive." ~ Tionek
"I had a weird dynamic to continue because of trauma. We had been friends for most of our lives (26 years) and every conversation was all about her. I was fine with that because she had a traumatic childhood and I knew she wasn't super socially with it. I'm happy to listen when my friends need it."
"Then she just unloaded on me saying I wasn't listening enough to her problems and how I had mistreated her by not asking enough pointed questions about abuse she had suffered as a kid. This was days after a three hour call where she did all the talking and it was mostly about her abuse."
"I was six months pregnant at the time and all I could think was "do I really have the bandwidth to take care of two babies?" I haven't spoken to her since." ~ keepinitcornmeal
It's WeirdFriends Tv GIFGiphy
"His wife tried to sleep with me. I didn't let it happen and I told him about it. They reconciled and had more kids, then it got weird whenever I was around so we drifted apart." ~ mycowild
Yeah, beware the partner of a loved one who is trying to trap you in a scandal. They are shady. Take that drama and run fast and far.
Why?Peering Looking GIF by MOODMANGiphy
"No idea. He slowly stopped answering calls, texts, emails... his wife, even more so. I'd occasionally stop by to see them and everything appeared to be OK. They never stopped to see us, even though his mother lived just a few miles away. I just quit trying." ~ NagromTrebloc
"It was October 16, 2015. I was working from home that day when I saw a call from him at around 9:15am. I had to ignore the call because I was in an online meeting. At 2pm my Dad calls my phone, which is unusual since he knows I'm working. I answer it."
"He is speaking quietly and very calmly. He says, "Son, I love you very much. I have some terrible news. Jared passed away this morning." Jared's wife was calling me from his phone to say she found him dead. I couldn't process what he was saying."
"I said, "That's not funny. Jared, his wife and me and my wife were supposed to meet up next weekend for dinner." Jared had sleep apnea surgery that same week. He had taken a painkiller and Benadryl together. It stopped his heart. He died 2 days before his 40th birthday. We were friends since grade school."
"We did everything together, he was my brother. He was the best man at my wedding earlier that year. I had just shared my son's heartbeat with him via a text message 2 days before. Jared was so excited to be his crazy uncle. I miss him every single day." ~ SnooCapers1425
"Codependency. I became basically obsessed with her and it just became too toxic. I had to cut it off because it was eating me up inside and she didn't deserve how I was treating her." ~ SuccessfulEggplant82
"Good on you for recognizing the problem you were having. It takes a lot (and I mean a crap ton) for an individual to come to this realization. Most people like to live in denial or fight it. I did the same thing and by the time I realized it, it was to late. I hope your able to get through it." ~ Nakanon85
"I noticed that he never came to my place to catch up. I stopped going over to his place to see how long until he noticed.... It's been 5 years now 🤷♂️." ~ Mr_Nonesuch
"Over the years I have observed in number of friendships that its always me that makes the call. They always are delighted to hear from me. If I organise something they come. They just don't make the effort. I have been best man five times so I don't think that its because the friendships are not valued. I don't know, am I missing something?" ~ Yarray2
"My ex wife. Even after we split we stayed close, co-parenting, helping each other out. She died 3.5 years ago. I could have made peace I think but after her death and our daughter was living with me full time I found out about how abusive my ex had been to her when I was around and it felt like losing her all over."
"Like I thought I knew who she was in the 13 years we'd had both together and separated, but it turns out I knew nothing. Now I'm just angry about it, like how dare you get to do this crap and then leave me to clean up your mess."
"How dare you have peace when my daughter has nothing but struggles and therapy. I felt like we were robbed of the good person, the good mother I thought she was." ~ Scarecrowqueen
Far Far Away...Jake Gyllenhaal Reaction GIF by MOODMANGiphy
"Friend moved to the other side of the planet, with their spouse, to be nearer to both their families. I never understood what real friendship was before friend was in my life; and now they're alive, but not here." ~ ClutchCrgo
One of the natural parts of life... saying goodbye. Or in some cases getting ghosted and forgotten. Either way, chin up.
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Humans have had an undeniably significant impact on our environment and the other species that inhabit the planet with us.
What might happen if humans weren't here to exert that influence, though?
What if we never had?
Reddit user Mompkey asked:
"Which species do you think would be dominant if humans didn't exist?"
"Wolves. They can, and have, successfully adapted to most of the various biomes on the planet."
"There's a reason we domesticated them and took them everywhere with us."Giphy
- Everything is garbage
- Garbage is delicious"
"I would agree, but now I'm wondering if our presence is the reason cockroaches have thrived as well as they have."Giphy
"Sharks, they are the dominant species on 3/4 of the Earth's surface already, they have survived mass extinctions and would thrive even more without humans mucking up their habitat."Giphy
"Humans are the only species that seek to dominate others. Other animals just want to live in the balance of nature. They're just trying to survive, they don't have time to take over the world."
"Pinky and The Brain theme song played in my head."Giphy
"We've killed off so many throughout history but of the ones that remains intelligence and versatility would be the key factors. Their food supply and habitat would greatly increase in our absence so with this being said.........primates."
"We are simply the superior primate therefore we are the dominant species. That opposable thumb is a mf when you have a large brain."
"Wouldn't it be just another off shoot of humans like the Neanderthal or heidelbergensis?"Giphy
While we'll probably never know definitively which species would truly thrive without us around, it's still fun to speculate.
Do you have thoughts?
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