I just watched season three’s finale of The Handmaid’s tale. I was alternatively weeping for joy or holding my husband’s hand in a vise-like grip due to the suspense. It is, without question, the best television series that I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
Everyone I’ve talked to seems to be on one side of the fence or the other about this series. Either they love it and are every bit as obsessed with it as I am, or they have never seen it and don’t want to because it’s got the reputation of being upsetting.
Yes, it can be upsetting. It’s full of rape and mutilation and adversity and violence. It shows what can happen when ruthless fascists take over and think they know what’s best for our society more than we do. It’s the worst-case scenario regarding the subjugation of women. It is about the heartless suppression of the voice of the people and a blatant disregard for human rights at a time when we’re already seeing way too much of that in real life.
But to focus on the darkness is to miss the entire point. That’s not why I watch The Handmaid’s Tale.
I watch it for the triumphs that are so hard-won amongst all that misery. I watch it to remind myself that no matter how bad things get, there will always be those of us who are willing to fight for what is right and never give up. Even while it exposes the ruthlessness of humanity, it also reaffirms my faith in what is good and straight and honest and true. It is an opportunity to celebrate the strength of women against all odds. It also demonstrates just how messy morality can be.
The acting is phenomenal. And the character development is beyond compare. Everyone is full of complex flaws, and I genuinely feel as though I’ve seen more than one person completely lose their mind on this show. And yet they persist.
I’m not going to lie. I also watch The Handmaid’s Tale to bear witness, and to learn what it might take to survive if this nightmare comes to pass. Because sometimes surviving is the greatest triumph of all.
I challenge you to watch at least the first three episodes of this show. If you’re not hooked by then, at least you won’t have to live with regrets. You will at least have had a taste of perfection. And I assure you that each season so far has been even better than the last.
This show is horrible in its excellence. I can’t wait for season four. Best. Show. EVER.
The strange thing about grieving is that it’s often at its most acute during times of pure joy. That seems kind of counterintuitive, but nevertheless it’s true. I frequently find that when I’m experiencing a moment of triumph or ultimate happiness, I’ll think, “God, I wish Chuck were here. He would love this.” And then it all comes crashing in.
For instance, twice in the past few months I’ve had a wonderful time with friends whom I know he’d have loved if only he had had the chance to meet them. Both evenings were rounded out with dancing. And then, as is often the case, everyone paired off for slow dancing. Everyone except me, of course, because my dance partner is no longer with us. Both times I wound up crying. Note to self: Avoid slow dances until such time as you have found someone to dance with.
And then sometimes I twist the emotional knife of my own volition. I have no idea why. Perhaps I’ll bury my nose in one of his t-shirts and breathe deeply. It brings him back for a precious second. But it also brings back the realization that he isn’t truly back at all, and never will be again.
Why do I do this to myself? I don’t know. But just try to take Chuck’s t-shirts from me. You’ll pull back a bloody stump.
I have always been fascinated with that split second in time when one’s life becomes completely different. Everyone has experienced this. The death or birth of a loved one. A job offer that changes your career path and/or drastically improves your financial situation. A medical diagnosis. An epiphany. A marriage proposal, a divorce request, an acceptance or a rejection letter. A tragedy or a triumph.
Most of the time these exact moments are unanticipated, but after the fact you can look at them and realize that that was the point when your path veered off in a different direction. The sharp, tiny little pivotal point.
If there were a way to study and measure those points, would we find that they possess an increased amount of psychic or spiritual or kinetic energy on a subatomic level? I’m sure there’s an adrenaline surge. No doubt the heart rate increases. One is definitely spurred to take action, or is left stunned and unable to function.
I’m convinced that in those moments, there’s something there that wasn’t there before. I’ve felt it. Some would posit that it is the presence of God. Others might call it fate or chance or dumb luck. I have no idea, but I think that those answers are too easy. They are what we resort to when we can’t adequately explain things.
I just wonder if there’s an actual, physical… something that happens. I wonder if we’ll ever be scientifically sophisticated enough to find out. And if we do, will we be able to accept what we discover? Because as it stands now, I believe that that moment of being on the brink of monumental change is where science and religion intersect, and that, perhaps, is the most powerful moment in life.