Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ have taken over much of the television industry by taking popular and enticing books or comics and creating a TV series counterpart. This allows writers and directors to focus on details deeper than a single two-hour movie and create more complex character arches. The talent of the director and writers to do this is crazy to imagine and should be applauded! As viewers, we are so lucky to see one of our favorite books or book series come to life through multiple seasons of a show!
One example of a book series becoming a TV show is The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood in 1985 and created into a Hulu series by Bruce Miller in 2017. It is still currently releasing episodes in 2021. It takes place in a dystopian and totalitarian society of the United States now called The Republic of Gilead where gender, power, and religious politics take center stage. Although addressing many sensitive and triggering topics, the show has remained one of the newest TV series sensations.
Throughout the series, the main character Offred/June, played by Elizabeth Moss, experiences being a “Handmaid” and the show follows her as she tries to navigate her new reality. Handmaids are fertile women in a society plagued by infertility who are responsible for creating babies for the commanders and their infertile wives. Once the Handmaids have a child with their commander, they are forced to hand over the baby once it’s born to him and his wife to be raised as their child. If a Handmaid refuses, she is punished by death or physical torture. The book occasionally leaves more to the imagination while the show dives into the graphic reality of Gilead. The Hulu series is a pretty intense and disturbing series, with many people unable to stomach the violence and story events, but other people are raptured by its eerie, realistic unbelievability.
Download the below for a lesson on dystopian literature and visual media.
Jennifer Dryden is a high school English and journalism teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. She is a part of the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for queer youth any way she can, including running her school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA). She has a passion for reading and making lame jokes to her students just to see them laugh or roll their eyes. She just concluded her eighth year teaching. Dryden graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in journalism and mass communication (2010) and BA in English Education (2013). She attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute (2010), and spent some time in children’s book publishing in New York.