Here in Canada, The Handmaid’s Tale airs on Sundays on Bravo. The first two episodes premiered last week – the network’s most watched series premiere in 5 years. In the US it was the most watched series premiere on Hulu. It is the show everyone is talking about. It’s the show Duana and I talk about on the new episode of our Show Your Work podcast to be posted later today. And Saturday Night Live just satirised it this weekend (what do you call it when you satirise satire?) with a sketch about complacent male oblivion. It reminded me of the Scarlett Johansson sketch a few weeks ago when she played Ivanka Trump, a mock fragrance ad called Complicit. What are the consequences when complacency meets complicity?
At the end of episode two of The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred returns to her room after meeting privately with the Commander. She barely makes it back in time to stifle her laughter. In the book, she laughs so hard she has to go into the closet because she’s afraid of being caught out – for laughing. In the world of The Handmaid’s Tale, a woman’s laughter is abnormal and, therefore, cause for concern. In the real world, in our times, a woman’s laughter is also, for some, abnormal and definitely cause for concern.
Desiree Fairooz laughed during US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s confirmation hearing when he was complimented for his "extensive record of treating all Americans equally under the law”. Putting aside whether or not you agree with WHY she laughed, the fact is… she laughed. And it became a crime.
Insert famous Atwood quote here. This is insane. https://t.co/6Trw5rOr8u— emily nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) May 3, 2017
Lizz Winstead is a comedian, the co-creator of The Daily Show and the co-founder of Lady Parts Justice, “the first not safe for work, rapid response reproductive rights messaging hub that uses comedy, culture and digital media to sound an alarm about the terrifying erosion of reproductive access so people will get off their asses and reclaim their rights”. In a piece for Vox published on Sunday, Liz writes about the power of laughter – it can unite, it can soothe, and it is a tool of resistance. In The Handmaid’s Tale, when she returned to her room, Offred laughed at the absurdity of what had just happened. She laughed in disbelief. Her laughter was also an essential pause, a necessary emotional pause, before she could begin processing what she’d just experienced. And, of course, in discovering that she was still capable of laughing, still capable of finding humour (albeit f-cked up) in her circumstances, it was a moment of self-discovery, RE-discovery – there you are, there I am, if I can still laugh, somehow, maybe, I can still live. I can still live to fight another day. Is that what they’re so afraid of?
Yours in gossip,