In a story about an oppressive near-future theocratic American society where women are treated like cattle to birth babies, everything is political. This week Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale even managed to weave a contemporary #MeToo narrative into the dystopian story based on the 1985 book by Margaret Atwood.
The June 13 episode “Smart Power” has Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) traveling to Canada to try to build a new relationship between the countries. In line with the usual liberal perspective, Canada receives an almost laudatory depiction, shown as the modern, liberty-driven refuge for American runaways in contrast to the oppressive Gilead. Because of this, tensions between the leaders erupt immediately, surprisingly not unlike recent real-life examples.
Gilead refugees in Canada quickly use this meeting to land a blow against their former oppressive government. They take written accounts from women inside Gilead and put them online for the world to see the truth. Once the Canadian leaders get word of how horribly Gilead treats its female citizens, all diplomacy is off because “we believe the women.”
Fred: Good morning, Stuart.
Stuart: We won’t be conducting this morning’s session, Mr. Waterford. You can go directly to the airport. We’ll have your luggage brought down.
Fred: I don’t understand.
Ambassador: You and your wife are no longer welcome in Canada.
Fred: Forgive me, is there an issue?
Stuart: Last night, someone uploaded a series of letters from women in your country, and the public reaction here in Canada has been overwhelming.
Fred: Are you really going to cancel an entire agenda based on some anonymous slander?
Stuart: We believe the women.
Fred: Yesterday you believed me.
Stuart: Our former position is no longer sustainable.
Emissary: I don’t know how you live with yourself. It’s sad what they’ve done to you.
Serena: Go in grace.
Of course, what is a #MeToo movement send off without an overly-dramatic protest?
Fred: Look at this. They can’t even control their own people.
Moira: Not Ruby. Asshole.
Yes, a story that believes Christianity is used for torture is trying to lecture us yet again on morality. The show hardly leads by example in the first place considering its lead actress Elizabeth Moss practices Scientology, a religious belief that has come under fire for covering up abuse. There are real women who suffer from real forms of sexual abuse, and they aren’t helped by morally-posturing hypocrites.
But that’s the pattern of The Handmaid’s Tale. It slams Christianity for its more conservative beliefs but remains silent on Islamic oppression. It promotes the “believe all women” mindset of the #MeToo movement but remains silent when the abuse hits home too closely. It wants to help women who are victims but does absolutely nothing except pander to its liberal audience. Lather, rinse, repeat.