The Handmaid’s Tale for DStv

A scene from The Handmaid’s Tale, winner of eight of its 13 Emmy Award nominations.

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BILLY SUTER reports on the multiple-Emmy-winning drama series, The Handmaid’s Tale, which is scheduled to start on M-Net (DStv’s channel 101) at 10pm on October 30.
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HAVING this week beaten such strong contenders as This is Us, The Crown, Westworld and House of Cards to take the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, the acclaimed The Handsmaid Tale is making history.

The winner of eight of 13 Emmy nominations this week, the show has the further distinction of being the first from a streaming platform to win the coveted Emmy for best drama series, having originally been commissioned for as a 10-parter for streaming service Hulu.

Its success has seen the show now commissioned for a second season in 2018 – and it is finally coming to South Africa via DStv’s channel 101, the first season scheduled to start at 10pm on October 30.

Based on the 1985 novel of the same name, by Canadian Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the near future, when fertility rates collapse as a result of sexually transmitted diseases and environmental pollution.

With this chaos in place, the totalitarian, Christian theonomic goverment of Gilead establishes rule in the former US in the aftermath of a civil war.

Society is organised by power-hungry leaders along a new, militarised, hierarchical regime of fanaticism and newly created social classes, in which women are brutally subjugated, and by law are not allowed to work, own property, handle money, or read.

Worldwide infertility has resulted in the conscription of the few remaining fertile women in Gileadm called handmaidens. according to an “extremist interpretation” of a Biblical account.

They are assigned to the homes of the ruling elite, where they must submit to ritualised rape with their male masters in order to become pregnant and bear children for those men and their wives.

Emmy Award-winner Elizabeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale.

June Osborne, renamed Offred (Elizabeth Moss) is the Handmaid assigned to the home of Gileadan Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski). She is subject to the strictest rules and constant scrutiny; an improper word or deed on her part can lead to brutal punishment.

Offred, who is named after her male master like all Handmaids, can remember the “time before”, when she was married with a daughter and had her own name and identity, but all she can safely do now is follow the rules of Gilead in the hope that she can someday live free and be reunited with her daughter.

The Waterfords, key players in the rise of Gilead, have their own conflicts with the realities of the society they have helped create.

The Handmaid’s Tale’s Emmy Awards included those for outstanding lead actress in a drama series (Elisabeth Moss), outstanding writing for a drama series (Bruce Miller), outstanding supporting actress in a drama series (Ann Dowd) and outstanding directing for a drama series (Reed Morano).

It also took awards for production design, guest actress (Alexis Bledel) and cinematography (Colin Watkinson, for the episode titled Offred).


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