Set in the not-too-distant-future world of Gilead, a Christian-fundamentalist theocracy has overthrown the U.S. government and women are stripped of their rights — not able to hold jobs or bank accounts.
Due to an epidemic of infertility, fertile women are sent to become handmaids for the upper classes, which includes having sex with men in the presence of their wives for the purpose of bearing children for the family.
Scared yet? For Bledel, who plays the handmaid Ofglen in the series, the most frightening thing about the story is that it hits awfully close to reality:
“The fact that many of the things in it are not made up [is what scares me most],” she says. “All of this has happened somewhere in the world — these are things humans have done or experienced somewhere. It gives it a frighteningly real aspect.”
The election of Donald Trump as our 45th president adds even more relevancy to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” especially considering the recent move to defund Planned Parenthood on the state level. The government’s regulation over women’s bodies is a theme that runs rampant in both the book and series:
“Watching the show does bring up thoughts on women’s reproductive rights for people,” Bledel admits.
Unlike many a think piece, the 35 year old didn’t get to compare the current nationalist-leaning administration to the one in the show with the crew because she wrapped filming one day post-election.
“I remember having a very different feeling internally because I was still processing the news,” she recalls. “But on set, it was the same set that I knew before. Everyone was doing great work and in good spirits. If I was there longer, I’m sure I would have had many conversations about how it undoubtedly felt different.”
At the end of the day, Bledel hopes that the show illustrates the dangers of apathy and sparks productive conversations:
“The world keeps moving forward at a more rapid pace than ever, and it requires action. It requires a response.”
The first three episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” premiere on April 26 on Hulu.