TV Tuesday: Blessed Be

Readers, we're back! And by "back" I mean that life got completely, 100% away from us and blogging fell apart and we finally sat down last weekend and decided that we needed to pull our lives and our blog back together.

So it's time for our first TV Tuesday in a really long time. I've wanted to talk about The Handmaid's Tale for a long time, but the show is so well-made and so timely that every bit of the content has been discussed. As it should be. In an era where it feels like literally anything could happen politically at any moment, The Handmaid's Tale feels like part parable, part cautionary tale, part horror movie meant to drip ice down my spine at every turn.

Image from IMDb
Instead of re-hashing all the ways the writers are able to turn our present-day fears into such a compelling narrative, instead I'd like to keep this spoiler-free and talk about the art of the show. The Handmaid's Tale is one of the most impressively visual shows I've ever seen, and the camera is used intentionally in every single scene.

For example:
Image from IMDb
The handmaids in the show are stripped of their identities. They become property of the commanders they belong to, even having their names taken from them. They wear matching red robes and hoods that simultaneously set them apart from the rest of the community while giving them a communal sameness. The camera works with this sameness, often shooting the groups of handmaids from above, or in such a way that we can't see their faces behind their hoods. Shooting the groups from above also gives the impression that these women are toys, pieces moving along a game board that they have no control over.

Image from IMDb
The Handmaid's Tale also uses color in a fantastic, interesting way. Because it's a society codified by color (handmaids wear red, wives wear blue, etc), they can be really intentional about when that color is super saturated or not. It's a really great way to tell us when the women are aligned, when they feel like they're part of the same team, or not. That's probably over-simplifying things, because nothing in the world of The Handmaid's Tale is quite that simple, but it is a tool that the show uses throughout to talk about where the women stand.

Image from IMDb
 The last thing I think is important to note about the way this show is shot is the use of macro/micro. We go from these huge crowd shots down to the smallest detail of a hand, an eye. The show is about these huge political actions, and there is a ton of large-scale world building, but it's also about the way those decisions affect individuals on a day to day basis. The horror of the show is watching the way these women have to navigate through those politics in their day to day, how it affects them in every way. So by moving visually from the huge to the detailed, we're forced to constantly remember both of those things.
Image from IMDb
Long story short, The Handmaid's Tale is brilliant. The writing is brilliant, the acting is brilliant, but most of all the visuals are brilliant. There are lots and lots of really beautifully shot shows nowadays, but I think this one is special because every inch of it is intentional. From light and shadow, to focus, to lens choice-every decision is made to serve the visual storytelling. And I am here for it.

Image from IMDb
Little C will be back with you on Thursday, because we are going to get it together, friends.

Happy Watching!


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