The Hulu original drama The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 best-seller, follows Offred (skillfully played by Elisabeth Moss), a twenty-something millennial wife and mother with a successful career. Offred is dismissed from her job, “freed” of her money and property, and ultimately enslaved as a handmaiden when a puritanical group overthrows the United States government.
The story takes place in Gilead, a dystopian America in which all forms of our Constitutional republic have been abolished in favor of strict adherence to Old Testament law. The propaganda pedaled by the puritanical authority is that America had become so “sinful” – engaging in pollution, drugs, extramarital and homosexual sex, abortion, etc. – that God cursed most women with infertility, causing the slowing birth rate to grind to a near halt. Therefore, any fertile women must be rounded up and used as breeding stock, or handmaidens (after the biblical story of Rachel and her handmaid, Bilhah), to provide wealthy powerful families with children.
The show portrays the fundamentalist ruling regime as right-wing, religious fanatics. The story is an example of what happens whenever any ideologically-driven group gains absolute power.