The Handmaid's Tale Season Two: Heartbreaking But Hopeful

Two weeks ago, I made a short list of shows I suggest watching and included The Handmaid's Tale. Anticipating the start of its second season, which arrived on April 25th, I am here to say that the time to start watching this show is now.

The first season acted as an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel, but the second season is an off-the-page account of Atwood's original story. I approached the new season knowing this and expecting to feel some kind of disconnect or shift in the narrative. But instead of a shift, there is a kind of refocus on the original mayhem that ensued when Gilead first formed.

The new aspect of season two that I particularly enjoyed was the inclusion of Emily's backstory. Flashbacks reveal Emily's progression with the reality around her, as a lesbian woman who has a wife and a young son. It was refreshing, and horrifying, to see the chaos from her perspective. Emily's character development was extraordinarily heartbreaking but simultaneously fortifying. The new season allows Emily to exist as the strengthened and hardened version of her inner hero. Although harrowing, Emily's retaliation gives a view into the kind of intelligent and determined resistance that is potentially possible through the "Mayday" revolution.

June's character development is equally as heartbreaking and fortifying. Finally given a little taste of agency, season two dives deep into her most human qualities. Her tribute to those slaughtered in the basement of The Boston Globe completely broke me. Beautifully filmed and gorgeously rendered by Elisabeth Moss, it was the flame to the candle of hope that I had been waiting for.

The Handmaid's Tale's season season may not be for everyone, but I believe it is important to push the story past the boundaries of the original novel and to allow this new wave of storytelling to provide an example of organization, resistance and resilience, to remind viewers of the horrors of human nature but also the inner strength and will to fix those horrors. If anything, I am keeping my fingers crossed that this adapted series embraces its ability to become an outlet for hope.