Emmys 2017: Reviews of The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies

TVI’d been planning to write about two great series “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies” for so long that they received Emmy Awards before I managed to do so. Better late than never I guess!

The Handmaid’s Tale

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a drama series. It’s based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel about a sexist theocracy in a world struggling with fertility. Women who can get pregnant are captured and serve as incubators to the ruling class of theocrats. They’re referred to as handmaids and the series focuses on the story of one of them, Offred (Elisabeth Moss). After her training in obedience and servitude, she is placed with an infertile marriage to whom she’s supposed to provide an offspring. You’ll have to watch the series to find out more!

The show is very heavy and depressing, especially for mainstream TV. However, it is very good and it does address important issues such as the emancipation of women, contraception, reproductive rights, feminism and sexism. I think especially given the worrying extreme right wing behaviors around the world, it is crucial to think about such issues. The message of the series is clear: it’s easy to ignore warning signs but the consequences of not reacting in time may be tragic. After all, Gilead is a country which replaced the USA.

The series is also worth watching due to convincing acting and interesting characters. The protagonist seems to be created in a way, which doesn’t make it easy for the audience to like her. And yet, the inhumane treatment she has to endure makes us relate to her on an empathic level, as we would to any human being in pain. It’s not only Elisabeth Moss (Drama Actress, Winner) whose acting should be praised. The other handmaidens, including Samira Wiley (Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, nominee), Alexis Bledel and Madeline Brewer give unforgivable performances. Ann Dowd (Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, winner) in the role of the ruthless superior of handmaids is excellent. Last but not least, Yvonne Strahovski as a seemingly emotionless Madame of the ruling class is a scary, yet pitiable character. You may like or dislike the series, but watching it will certainly be an unforgettable experience.

Apart from the above-mentioned Emmy awards and nominations, the Handmaid’s Tale received and award for the best Writing for a Drama Series and for the best Drama Series.

Under His Eye.

Big Little Lies

“Big Little Lies” is a series contained in one season, a so-called limited series. The story has a defined opening and an end. It is a rather uncommon format these days, as the makers try to usually squeeze as many season out of a series as they can. I’m a proponent of ending things when they’re still good, so I was very happy with this solution for the excellent show.

Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) comes to Monterey with her son Ziggy to start a new life. She hopes a small town will give her the peace she’s been looking for. She quickly makes friends with Madeline (Reese Whiterspoon) and Celeste (Nicole Kidman), who are happy to have some “fresh blood” in their circle. Unfortunately, the alleged aggressive behavior of her son towards one of the other school kids causes her to also quickly gain new enemies. Renata (Laura Dern) is an overprotective mother and she starts a personal vendetta against Jane. On the top of this background, we learn that someone’s going to die. But who and why? Yet again, watch the series to find out, I’m not taking responsibility for spoiling your fun.

“Big Little Lies” looks like a predictable series about life in a small town, where seemingly perfect aren’t truly flawless. It’s much more than that, though. The series addresses important issues such as domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse, infidelity but also female solidarity and forgiveness. Similarly like “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Big Little Lies” is a feast for the audience missing good female performances. Nicole Kidman received an Award for Limited Series Actress, while her co-cast Reese Witherspoon was a runner-up. Laura Dern won the Award for the best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie and Shaileen Woodley was a nominee in this category. Let’s not forget about Alexander Skarsgard who was chosen the best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.

Last but not least, the music in the series is just magical. I could listen to the theme song “Cold Little Heart” by Michael Kiwanuka over and over again, but the whole soundtrack is remarkable. Zoe Kravitz, who appears in the series in the role of Bonnie, may not be an amazing actress but she has a beautiful voice and I was mesmerised by her version of “Don’t”. Please don’t miss this series. It’s really worth your time! If you don’t believe me, you should know that the series also received the Emmy awards for Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special as well as for the best Limited Series and was nominated for Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama.

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