The weekly highlight: “The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 3, on Hulu.
Premise: A religious government continues to rule over the United States. Having taken power shortly after the beginning of a fertility crisis, this group of conservative radicals established the totalitarian state of Gilead. In the show’s third season, the leaders start to lose control of the oppressive new culture they created and act with increasing desperation. The show focuses on one woman who had a chance to escape but ultimately decided to return “home” for another shot at saving her child from the clutches of a powerful family in the new government. Both the oppressed and the oppressors can tell this new way of life doesn’t work, but with the vicious rules set up to punish dissenters, seemingly nobody has the power to act in a meaningful way.
Stars: Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, Joseph Fiennes, Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley and Bradley Whitford.
Sum-up: The imaginative world-building of the show continues to elevate a meandering script of stuck characters. Even the color palette of the costumes alone clearly continues to resonate, given the viral story of the red umbrella mistaken for a handmaid’s outfit earlier this year (someone thought a woman had dressed as a handmaid to jump off a roof). Elisabeth Moss won an Emmy for this role and continues to portray her tragically oppressed character with mastery.
Heads-up: The writers seem to realize Gilead should logically crumble, while still wanting to keep it around for the sake of continuing the show. So the plot doesn’t go anywhere satisfying, as characters seem to try to move forward while stuck on treadmills. And speaking of moving forward, but more literally, the show uses a slow-motion effect on almost every single scene that doesn’t involve dialogue. One, this means the hourlong show could be way shorter, and two, once you realize the use of this as a crutch to make uninteresting character movements seem like action, the show becomes far more tedious to watch. Moss should be able to simply stroll down a hallway without slow motion. If the character was heading to do something actually interesting, the show wouldn’t need this effect to manufacture moments of importance.
Look-up: In an essay about the new season on Vox, television critic Emily Todd VanDerWerff publicly came out as a trans woman. In Gilead, the government executes people for not conforming to heteronormativity. VanDerWerff had a recurring dream of living in the world of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and having to go on the run. “In Gilead, there are no trans women,” VanDerWerff wrote. “In Gilead, ‘gender traitors’ are exiled or executed. So every night, at the end of the dream, I died.”
Will everyone be talking about this? Yes. The show attracts a wide audience, even if the critical acclaim has died down season to season.
You can watch the trailer for “The Handmaid’s Tale” below.
Read on for more recommendations and news from the week. And in the navigation bar above, you can choose specific recommendations for series streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Here’s the trailer:
A Couple Of Streaming News Stories From This Week
1. The Wall Street Journal reports that WarnerMedia has abandoned a plan for a multitiered streaming service and will bundle HBO, Cinemax and the Warner Bros. library together for about $16-$17 a month. This would solve the woes of having HBO cost about $15 a month by itself (as it currently does), while offering a competitive service to the vast and cheaper libraries of Netflix, Hulu and the forthcoming Disney+.