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Handmaid’s Tale Yes The Handmaid Tale is dark But it not trauma porn

handmaid’s tale season 4, handmaid’s tale season 4 uk


'The Handmaid's Tale' season 4 premiere – fans react: “So … Wed, 28 Apr 2021 20:00:00 +0100-The dystopian drama, which is back for a fourth season, has never shied away from gore. But for Clémence Michallon, the accusations of 'torture porn' have …

Yes, The Handmaid’s Tale is dark. But it’s not trauma porn

April 28, 2021

The Handmaid’s Tale has always had a dark heart. How could it not? The TV series, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, has violence at its core. In the dystopian world imagined by the author, the United States (now known as Gilead) has systematically deprived women of their bodily autonomy. They are sorted into various roles, including that of Handmaid – a woman separated from her family and assigned to a married couple, with the (very non-optional) mission of bearing them healthy children. Naturally, that mission involves ritualised rape, forced pregnancies, and the involuntary separation of the biological mother from her offspring.

The TV adaptation, now back for a fourth season, has remained faithful to this framework. For more than 30 episodes, we have watched June (Elisabeth Moss) make her way in this terribly oppressive world. Along the way, the show showed many acts of violence, unflinchingly so, but never gratuitously.

When we left June at the end of season three, she had accomplished part of her latest goal, having freed 86 children. June was as good as left for dead, having been shot by a soldier. In the season four premiere, she’s rescued by her fellow former Handmaids and brought to a farm, where the women live somewhere between autonomy and resistance – and under the unpredictable leadership of the young Mrs Keyes, a teenage girl eager to join the fight against Gilead.

The Handmaid’s Tale has never shied away from gore. We have seen blood. A lot of it. We have seen a woman’s eye gouged out. We have seen transgressors getting hanged. We have seen death. We have seen rape. We have seen a thousand shades of brutality.

For those reasons, some have deemed the series problematic, or likened it to “torture porn” or “trauma porn”. But it’s a description that has never rung true to me – even as the season four opener brought me deeper into Gilead’s darkness.

The new series wastes no time inflicting bodily harm on June: from the first few minutes, one of her allies must essentially brand her with a hot iron to cauterise one of her bleeding wounds. The episode ends as violently as it could, with the women turning onto a man found on the Keyes’s property.

Depicting such violence is certainly a choice. It also means the series might not be for everyone. But The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopia, and so it makes sense to interpret it as a fable, a symbol for something larger. It’s worth remembering that the show’s boom in popularity came during the Trump administration, when reproductive rights (among many others) were increasingly threatened. It came after the then-president-elect, asked what women should do if abortion were outlawed at a federal level and they lived in a state where it’s not permitted, dismissively declared: “They’ll have to go to another state.”

It’s not just the Trump administration. The US has the highest maternal mortality rate when compared to similarly wealthy countries – in other words, you’re at a significantly higher risk to die as a result of pregnancy if you live in the US than, say, the UK or France. This is relevant context for Handmaid’s. That fear? That feeling of doom? The possibility of your body being used against you, of being neglected to the point of no return? We have felt it. We have felt it in our bones, and there is something that rings true in the way it gets translated onto the screen.

The violence in Handmaid’s is jarring precisely because it’s not played for laughs. There are no farcical effusions of blood, no cartoonesque escalation bringing us back to the safety of humour. That doesn’t mean the show devolves into gratuitousness. On the contrary, there is something compelling in its use of violence. In the season four opener, as it has in the previous three seasons, physical and mental cruelty often comes as the result of one’s own trauma and oppression.

Such is the case when June decides what to do with the guardian caught on the farm. Yes, she and the other women turn on the man in a cruel, brutal way. But where do you think they learnt such behaviour? In earlier seasons, Handmaids were made to stone their transgressive peers to death. The narrative is clear, efficient: the seed of violence was planted in them by Gilead. The system’s own chickens have come home to roost. If anything, it’s a wonder it took four seasons to get to that point.

From an aesthetic point of view, we don’t see all that much. The worst of the violence is suggested rather than depicted, with the camera fading away from the heart of the action or blurring it in the background. Moss’s performance continues to carry us through it all. Her facial expressions consistently strike the right chord, whether June is steeling herself against her own trauma or experiencing brief flutters of something resembling joy.

What The Handmaid’s Tale tells us is this: structural violence results in individual pain. Sometimes, that pain is impalpable – it’s fear, it’s trauma, it’s your life being taken away from you. And sometimes, it’s as real as a bullet wound in a Handmaid’s body.

The Handmaid’s Tale season four is streaming now on Hulu in the US


قراءة المزيد

Yes, The Handmaid's Tale is dark. But it's not trauma porn Wed, 28 Apr 2021 20:00:00 +0100-The first reactions for season 4 of 'The Handmaid's Tale' are here, as Hulu released the first three episodes a day early in the US.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ season 4 reactions: “So traumatised I can’t sleep”

April 28, 2021

Elizabeth Moss as June in 'The Handmaid's Tale' episode 'Useful' (season three, episode 303, aired June 5, 2019). CREDIT: Ely Dassas / ©Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale season four have just been released – read on for initial reactions.

Hulu dropped the episodes one day ahead of schedule, with the first three being released last night (April 27) in the US.

“I can admit that I am going to bed with tear stains after episode 3 of @HandmaidsOnHulu,” one fan wrote in response to Hulu’s tweet announcing the news that three episodes had started streaming.

Another added: “So @HandmaidsOnHulu has me so traumatized and now I can’t sleep. The train…. THE TRAIN.”

One person also commented on feeling traumatised, reworking a quote from Mean Girls by writing: “Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt traumatized by The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Take a look at some more fan reactions here:

In terms of critics, Vulture gave season four of The Handmaid’s Tale a positive review saying the new episodes “finally regain some momentum and forward motion.”

“Based on the eight out of ten total episodes made available to critics, this is the best The Handmaid’s Tale has been since its first season,” they wrote.

The Hollywood Reporter praised Elisabeth Moss’ “sharp visual eye” as a director, but criticised the storyline and described it as “a string of narrative reboots”.

A teaser was also shared last month, showing how season four will pick up after June’s failed bid to escape to Canada.

NME has contacted Channel 4 regarding updates for the UK release, which is yet to be confirmed.

Elizabeth Moss as June in 'The Handmaid's Tale' episode 'Useful' (season three, episode 303, aired June 5, 2019). CREDIT: Ely Dassas / ©Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale season four have just been released – read on for initial reactions.

Hulu dropped the episodes one day ahead of schedule, with the first three being released last night (April 27) in the US.

“I can admit that I am going to bed with tear stains after episode 3 of @HandmaidsOnHulu,” one fan wrote in response to Hulu’s tweet announcing the news that three episodes had started streaming.

Another added: “So @HandmaidsOnHulu has me so traumatized and now I can’t sleep. The train…. THE TRAIN.”

One person also commented on feeling traumatised, reworking a quote from Mean Girls by writing: “Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt traumatized by The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Take a look at some more fan reactions here:

In terms of critics, Vulture gave season four of The Handmaid’s Tale a positive review saying the new episodes “finally regain some momentum and forward motion.”

“Based on the eight out of ten total episodes made available to critics, this is the best The Handmaid’s Tale has been since its first season,” they wrote.

The Hollywood Reporter praised Elisabeth Moss’ “sharp visual eye” as a director, but criticised the storyline and described it as “a string of narrative reboots”.

A teaser was also shared last month, showing how season four will pick up after June’s failed bid to escape to Canada.

NME has contacted Channel 4 regarding updates for the UK release, which is yet to be confirmed.


قراءة المزيد
– April 28, 2021
Handmaid’s Tale Yes The Handmaid Tale is dark But it not trauma porn
handmaid’s tale season 4, handmaid’s tale season 4 uk