‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Tries to Wrap Up an Uneven Season 2 With an Ill-Fitting Bow

/Film | 7/12/2018 | Hoai-Tran Bui
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In the spirit of The Handmaid’s Tale’s spectacularly on-the-nose needledrops, I would like to compare the season 2 finale of the Hulu series, “The Word,” to John Mayer’s hit song “Daughters.” “Fathers be good to your daughters / daughters will love like you do / Girls become lovers who turn into mothers / so mothers be good to your daughters too,” Mayer croons in the sentimental pop song that tries so hard to relate to women through their standing as mothers, daughters, sisters.

The Handmaid’s Tale has had a complex relationship with motherhood. Its premise is centered around women who have had their identity and agency stripped from them — reduced to merely child-bearing vessels. Neither mother, nor daughter, nor sister. And yet, like Mayer’s simplistic understanding of gender norms, The Handmaid’s Tale has had trouble expanding its characterization of women beyond mother.

Season - Importance - Motherhood - June - Desperation

This season has been all about the importance of motherhood. June’s desperation to be reunited with Hannah, then when she gives birth to Holly, her desperation to save her from her fate of living under Gilead’s oppressive rule. All the while the shadow of June’s own mother looms overhead, her radical feminist teachings beginning to impact June’s bolder behavior against her oppressors. It’s through the lens of motherhood that we’re given more of Emily’s backstory — her cruel separation from her partner and child. Janine and her unabating dedication to her child define most of her arc. Moira’s brush with motherhood when she, in flashback, acts as a surrogate, informs so much of who she is as a person — and casts her as perhaps the lone exception to this sweeping motherhood theme.

And it’s through motherhood that we’re finally able to sympathize with Serena, who has swung from cold, jealous mistress to unlikely ally all throughout the season. Then...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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