Hulu just released a new trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale, their upcoming series starring Elizabeth Moss set to premiere on April 26, and it looks chilling.
The show is based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, written in 1985 and never out of print since, which depicts a dystopian future in which the United States of America has been dismantled and replaced with a theocracy, Gilead, which forces women to act as “handmaids” to powerful men and bear them children if their wives are sterile.
The trailer shows us our fullest glimpse yet at the world before Gilead. “I was asleep before, that’s how we let it happen,” Moss’ Offred says in voiceover. “When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the constitution, we didn’t wake up then either. Now I’m awake.” We see Offred (a name which designates her as “of Fred”) as she was before she donned the chilling red coat and white hairpiece—protesting the new totalitarian regime, getting fired from her job, attempting to flee with her husband and daughter to Canada. We also get quick glimpses of Serena Joy, The Commander, and his driver, Nick.
But perhaps the most interesting revelations from the new trailer are down in its comments section where hordes of ornery Trump supporters who can’t find anything in the world to get angry about have decided to project their ire onto a decades-old work of fiction.
For a little context: Hulu picked up The Handmaid’s Tale with a straight-to-series order in April 2016. I know it feels like Donald Trump has been our president for a thousand years, but he didn’t even become the Republican nominee until July—three months later.
Yes, of course, The Handmaid’s Tale seems chillingly familiar to the modern day Republican party and its Twitter-addicted leader, but that’s what made Atwood’s original work so stirring in the first place. Atwood tapped into a genuine and timeless threat: those men who will trade away the liberty of their neighbors for power. A fixation on controlling women’s bodies, and their wombs; performative evangelicalism; anti-intellectualism; pollution and sexually transmitted diseases gone unchecked—“’Better’ never means better for everyone,” the Commander remarks. What about “Great Again,” Commander?
And so, to those Trump supporters who have seen the trailer and derided it as liberal propaganda, I ask: what is it about a dystopian horror world in which terrorist attacks are used as an excuse for unchecked power, and in which women are suppressed until they are worth little more than their ability to reproduce seems like it’s referring to your political party? Because if you recognize The Handmaid’s Tale, written over thirty years ago, as a big subtweet at your political movement, what does that say about your political movement?