10

Is anyone watching this season? I know I've gone on at some length in the past about how I find it a) torture porn at times and b) greatly inferior to the (astonishing) book(s), but I keep going back (not least because benched with a bug this week.)

So far, I found episode 2 insanely self indulgent, and episode 1 less so but still not great - and episode 3 getting into the actual worldbuilding of Gilead, which I find much more interesting. And it's been remarkably torture-porn free. Interested in what others think, and if people consider to find it good if they've watched more than I have.

Is anyone watching this season? I know I've gone on at some length in the past about how I find it a) torture porn at times and b) greatly inferior to the (astonishing) book(s), but I keep going back (not least because benched with a bug this week.) So far, I found episode 2 insanely self indulgent, and episode 1 less so but still not great - and episode 3 getting into the actual worldbuilding of Gilead, which I find much more interesting. And it's been remarkably torture-porn free. Interested in what others think, and if people consider to find it good if they've watched more than I have.

18 comments

Only the first three episodes of season 5 have been released, but I've enjoyed everything that hasn't been a close-up/slow motion shot of June's face, hands, or body (nothing against Elizabeth Moss personally). June is just not the most interesting character in the show at this point, imo, and every time we get a languid and interminable shot of her, I find myself mentally ticking off the seconds until we get back to something interesting.

I really love watching Serena face the savage reality of the hellscape she helped create and I hope to see more of such scenes in this season. Few things are more annoying to me than her belief that she's both smarter and more politically adept than everyone else and that she can somehow control her fate in a society so hostile to women.

Bradley Whitford as Lawrence continues to be my favorite male character, followed by Sam Jaeger as Tuello.

This is not a spoiler post, so I'll just vaguely state that I'm not happy about what they did to Alexis Bledel's character.

I've enjoyed everything that hasn't been a close-up/slow motion shot of June's face,

Same! I am getting tired of her stares.. and almost breaking the 4th wall all the time. I dont appreciate her character for a lot of reasons.. she is almost unrealistic sometimes. Like in S4 when she was pointing a gun at a child. . She just just stood there even long after people were like WTH are you doing?

I could have written almost exactly this lol. My nigel and I both groan loudly at those indulgent close-ups, they feel like running out the clock on each episode and like we’re been cheated out of good plot beat instead every time.

June is just not the most interesting character in the show at this point

I really enjoy how they've developed Aunt Lydia in the show in more recent seasons, and really recommend The Testaments on that account - Atwood's exploration of her as a protagonist is fascinating.

Hmm, I hated The Testaments and Lydia's behavior in that book read more like Atwood's spin at writing Ann Dowd fan-fiction than something the character as written in The Handmaid's Tale would have actually done. That world and those characters are Atwood's and she can obviously do whatever she wants with them, but The Testaments felt very much like her responding to criticism of the show, instead of an organic sequel to the first book. I think she really wanted a happy ending, so she wrote herself one. And that's fine - the first book is her masterpiece and I will always treasure it as a standalone work.

Interesting - and admittedly I’ve only read it once, binged it at the start of lockdown when the world was weird and I processed everything differently.

What I liked about it was how fleshed out the world of Gilead was in The Testaments. I liked Daisy (?) in Canada the least, and she became a bit of a Mary Sue, but the other two viewpoint characters really interested me. I liked how they showed how Aunts came to be - the way in which women can hold great power in patriarchy, but only if they dance extremely carefully around the sensibilities of the truly power men, is interesting, and I thought she handled that well.

I’ll have to reread HT and see how Aunt Lydia is written there compared with Testaments. I think I see your point, though - it might have been smarter to have had a new Aunt as the viewpoint character in the sequel, if the goal was to explore “how could a semi normal woman become an Aunt?” rather than develop an established and comparatively one note Aunt from the first book.

[–] Julie92845 1 points Edited

Anyone else think this show meandered to nowhere the last few seasons? Little of substance actually happened. Yes, June (rightfully) abducted some kids and got to Canada. Fred and Serena got arrested and Fred...you know, don't want too many spoilers.

My husband decided to watch season 5 with me, despite only having watched the first episode of season 1 and only knowing the basic plot. Anytime a character appeared, I gave him a quick rundown of who they were and he was up to speed. I feel like if that sort of thing is possible 5 seasons in, your show is wanting for plot pretty badly. It's stretched so thin.

June's plot armour is ridiculous.

Escape to Canada proved to be very boring.

The only excitement in last season, in the sense of real tension, was when they were pushing other handmaids off the roof and threatening to torture Hannah to get June to cooperate. It felt like real risk, because we know they won't kill June, but it was also exploitative, horrifying, and viscerally upsetting in a way that I do not need from my entertainment.

I’m watching it! There have been many moments of the show that I have had to turn the volume down or look away, but I am very invested and want to know what happens. I’m really hoping they fully complete the story.

I really liked when they did the flashbacks of where the characters came from, and I wish they continued to do that. June is annoying me a bit, but I also think they’re making her a bit unlikable on purpose. Like she’s becoming a villain more than a hero? I wonder if that’s the direction they want the show to end that Gilead ruins everyone?

If they want to show that prolonged and horrific trauma makes people broken and, well, unlikeable ... that's got some verisimilitude.

I'm a bit taken aback at Moira and Luke being shocked at her killing Fred. Dude needed killing. Being mad she sent the finger and potentially drew trouble to their family is more reasonable.

[–] Peppermint 1 points Edited

Dude needed killing.

I LOLd at this. lol. Yes, he needed killing for sure!

Yeah I don’t want to call her unlikable because she’s been through the worst of the worst, but I wasn’t quite sure the word for it?

Yes!! They’re shocked that justice was served. The divide between them is so interesting. They want her to settle down and find a new, peaceful normal. She wants to keep fighting. Its so interesting to me.

I started watching this season and just couldn't help eye-rolling at (once again) the constant close-ups of June looking angry and intense, so I was struggling to get back into it. I will try again at some oint.

And Moss directed episode 2, which makes it seem especially unimaginative/self-indulgent. I get that season one, where we're meant to empathize with the handmaids' claustrophobia and the literal blinkers of the "wings," made good use of focussing on her face during monologues. It fit the story and was usually skilfully done. But the whole HT universe has changed, they don't do the inner monologues anymore, and it just doesn't work.

I also hate the June closeups and I will say that episode 3 is much better in that regard (i.e., there are a lot fewer of them). I'm happy that I'm not the only one that wishes they'd cut that shit out. I feel like I could draw Moss's face from memory, I've seen it so much.

Is it worth watching handmaid‘s tale past season one? I only saw I want to see the first three of the first season I never got around to finishing it because I kept seeing women online saying that after I think the first two seasons it diverts heavily from the book and just turns into torture porn- is that a fair assessment or is it still making a political commentary further on?

The first season is a very faithful adaptation of the book. It ends exactly where the book is. It is in some ways more graphically violent than the book, in part because the book is an extremely tight focus on Offred and more or less only Offred, her experiences and her memories, where the first season is more omniscient narrator and looks at more characters, for better and for worse.

In terms of whether it’s worth watching, that’s tricky. I think later seasons are inferior and more exploitative, so that could be a “no,” and yet I still watch it … but I don’t when I’m busy, so even for me it’s not something I make a point of keeping up with.

I’d say, if you don’t mind some disturbing violence and you’re interested in seeing a well done adaptation of the book, stick with season 1. If you’re interested in seeing what the producers riffing on the general themes looks like, with a lot more gratuitous violence and plotting that makes less sense the further they get from Atwood’s material, the other seasons are interesting enough. It’s also not a coincidence IMO that Atwood is a woman and the producers/show runners are almost all men, and the tone shifts a lot after season 1.

The show probably deserves the "torture porn" label, but for me it was worth getting through those scenes because the series shows women not only enduring and surviving torture but overcoming it and defeating their torturers. And the scenes where June and the other Handmaids outsmart and confront the people who put them through hell are extremely satisfying. But I get the criticism and I think the show is much harder to watch if you've had a personal experience of severe abuse/assault (tbh, I don't think people who have should watch the show).