I don’t watch The Handmaid’s Tale.
I haven’t seen a single second of the show, actually.
I meant to watch it, back when I heard it was being made. I had every intention of adding it to the already too-long list of TV shows I devour – but then the election happened, and even though some of the shock of it had worn off by the time the show premiered six months later, a show about a totalitarian regime where women are literal property of the state just seemed…too real. It hit way too close to home, especially with Pence a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
So I put it off, mentally assigning it to the backburner of shows I would get to eventually, waiting for the day when I was in a better headspace to consume something so dark, so disturbing, and so horrifyingly plausible.
But that day never came – and with Roe vs. Wade hurtling toward a seemingly inevitable demise, I doubt I ever will. This is not a commentary on the show’s quality – I’m sure it’s exceedingly well-made and splendidly acted, worthy of this “Golden Era” of TV in which we are still living – or a hipsterish, contrarian backlash against what is popular.
I merely came to the conclusion that continually subjecting myself to women’s trauma, fictional or otherwise, as entertainment is not worth it for me, no matter the supposed deeper meaning behind it. Rape, domestic abuse, and graphic violence toward marginalized groups are not prerequisites for powerful or compelling storytelling, and I am tired of Prestige Television™ pretending otherwise.
“But you’re being a total hypocrite,” I can hear you saying. “I follow you on Twitter. I know you watch Westworld, Supernatural, and Stranger Things. And don’t even get me started on Game of Thrones!”
And you’re right, I do. My TV habits are not all light and fluffy, and I have endured countless instances of fictional women being fridged in order to further the character development of men – though I have nearly given up on shows before because of lazy, gratuitous rape plots (yes, Game of Thrones, I’m looking at you). But I have noticed that, in the last two years, I have made conscious efforts to consume more television that contains generally good people just trying to do their best – or at least kinda crappy people who are making an effort to be better.
Allowing oneself to watch and enjoy these sorts of shows isn’t just a method of media self-care; it’s an act of resistance.