We are in the era of book to TV adaptations. Be it network adaptations like Hannibal and Shadowhunters or subscription services like Netflix’s Series of Unfortunate Events and Thirteen Reasons Why, it seems like books are really starting to take over the television-sphere in the last few years. So when Hulu announced that it was adapting Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale into an original show on its service I was instantly intrigued.
Unlike many people who read The Handmaid’s Tale for class, I picked the book up on my own. During the height of the most recent dystopian craze I had picked up any book with a hint of that kind of setting. The Handmaid’s Tale ended up being my favorite.
But like with all adaptations I was nervous. Would it suck? Just because they have the advantage of long for television over short form film does not mean they would adapt the story well. Now having watched it I am impressed. While it may not be the most true adaptation on the page, Handmaid’s Tale is incredibly true to the spirit of the novel, updating parts to make it more current than the 1980’s novel.
One of the biggest differences between the novel and the show is Offred herself. While the base character remains the same, the TV version shows a bit more spirit than the novel counterpart. I think this was a necessary change, as book Offred was not a character we could follow episode to episode without adding more fire to her.
The other big difference is that many of the side character’s stories are expanded, something I think was sorely needed to translate the story from book to television. While Offred’s story is still the center point, seeing how others react and navigate the world is completely necessary to continue building on the base and making it a fully realized setting. Otherwise the show would be incredibly narrow and almost shallow. Moira, Jeanine, Ofglyn, Luke, Nick, these characters all needed fleshing out.
I think Hulu did an incredible job with the Handmaid’s Tale. It’s up there with some of the best adaptations on TV. Even though the original book is finished by the end of the finale of season one, I am glad they are expanding the story into a second season (and that they excised the unnecessary epilogue that kind of ruins the emotional impact).
I highly recommend watching The Handmaid’s Tale, as it is a beautifully filmed, intense story that is incredibly timely for today’s world despite the fact that the book was written in the 80’s. It is fair to note that the show is rated for mature audiences due to its intensity and violence. It’s not always pleasant to watch but I do believe it is important, and so is its message. I also think that as art, the show is beautiful and haunting.
This is a 4.5 Nut show!
What did you think of Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale? Share your own thoughts in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,