Has anyone seen this? If so, what did you think?
I have watched it over the past week and despite some misgivings really liked the show.
The negatives/mixed: it was overlong. It could have been cut down to 8 episodes. Episode 7 could have been trimmed to five to ten minutes and likewise episode 8. It was slow to get started put thankfully picked up. I was conflicted on the use of flashbacks. Some of them were very interesting, in particular the Waterford's & Nick but there was too much of June and her hubby and best friend (episode 7 being a case in point). The three primary male characters are all problematic. Luke (O-T Fagbenle) was too good to be true. Joseph Fiennes must be one of the least charismatic actors working today. No wonder he hasn't had the career that brother Ralph has had. Fred is just so bland and needed an actor who was capable of bringing more shading to the role. Like Ralph could have. Max Minghella as the driver Nick had more to work with than the other two and just the right amount of back story to fit into the current events.
The pulses: the women. Across the board fantastic performances from Elizabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley, Amanda Brugel & Nina Kiri. Just wow, wow, wow. Every line, movement and expression delivered to perfection by all them. I have to give a special mention to Ann Down as Aunt Lydia. What could have been a broad caricature (see Allison Janney in I, Tonya) is instead a performance of at times genuine humanity and even a sense of empathy, despite the cruelty and pain she inflicts on the handmaids. Her exchanges with Janine (Madeline Brewer) were heartbreaking, most notably at the 'party' scene. Inner conflict and contradictions of the characters helps makes this a most interesting study of the flaws in human nature.
The series was also well updated to a version of the near future from a 2017 perspective and felt very timely given the current administration in the U.S. One could really imagine something like this happening in the U.S. in the next 10 years and I suspect this was part of the reason for its success - it felt so contemporary and timely. I also thought the views and actions of Canada and Mexico complemented those with regime beautifully.
Though I don't think it needs a series two, there is potential with a continuation of the story, though some things are better left unresolved. I'll just have to wait for season two to decide if season one was really enough.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.