The Handmaid’s Tale: Fact or Fiction?

By Sophia Harvey, Media and Communication, ’24

The Handmaid’s Tale, a hit 2017 sci-fi series that is available on the popular streaming service Hulu, explores the dystopian future that follows a political turnover. The resulting splintered state of the United States turns into the country of Gilead where the power dynamic is reverted back to a patriarchal society and strips women of basic human rights. Handmaids are the remaining fertile women in the country who are used for child bearing of the high society members’ children against their will. The Handmaid’s Tale although a fictional world has many parallels to the present day United States, and if the political climate continues to be so polarized we many end up in a dystopian society similar to that of Gilead. 

While classified as a fictional narrative adapted from the 1985 novel written by Margaret Atwood, this dystopian future is much closer to reality than we’d like to admit. The political climate of the United States today is very polarized and almost militant. This type of division is something that inevitably escalates into a destructive nature, and puts the country at risk for further dismantling. The 2020 Election has developed into a global spectacle that has consisted of violence, division, protests, and national fear. This year’s election has been one of the most anticipated elections of all time with voter turnout increasing by approximately 6 percent. Needless to say this election has people very passionate and outspoken.

So how does this connect to the 2017 sci-fi television hit? Well, The Handmaid’s Tale starts with political division and a national decline in fertility rates. The division makes room for an independent group of high profile individuals to step in and dismantle the government and take matters into their own hands. With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the United States especially hard in the past year, the fatalities and health risks threatening our society is comparable to the population decrease that aided in the formation of Gilead and the government turnover. During this election, Covid-19 has been a large influencer for who people believe will be the best leader of our country, however with all of this occurring, vaccines and solutions to the virus have been increasing in effectiveness. Thus, leading many to believe that this devastating pandemic will conclude sooner than expected.

There are theories surrounding the pandemic and its relation to the election. Some believe that the virus was purposely spread to draw attention away from the political corruption being witnessed in office these past 4 years. While there is definite deflection from the United States government, there has also been little progress done to eliminate the coronavirus. And even now, a year later, we are seeing numbers skyrocket once again. The fatalities have also been countless and are increasing in numbers as well. This reality has such close ties to the dystopian world created by Margaret Atwood, from the splintering government to the pandemic resulting in a declining population. The probability of the future of our country turning into a Gilead-like situation of course is a stretch, however there are many occurrences that point to political unrest and government splintering.

As a solution, the United States citizens need to put our political differences aside and focus on what each of us can do to create a better reality and country we live in. Regardless of election results there needs to be some form of coming together to embrace the change in leadership and embrace the future of the United States. As unlikely as it seems, if we keep pushing against each other there is still a chance at a Gilead future.