The Handmaid’s Tale, which just wrapped up its third season on Hulu, is a series based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, that looks at a dystopian society whereby women, with the exception of the wives of wealthy commanders, have been stripped of all their rights. Handmaids, women who are fertile, are forced to bear children for the wives of these commanders.
It paints a terrifying picture as we see women being tortured and forced to engage in a monthly “ceremony,” people getting hanged in the streets, and oppression all around.
But while many things in Gilead, the fictional society in the series, totally check out, some things don’t make much sense.
Here are 10 things that leave us scratching our heads about the series.
10 That June Hasn’t Been Hanged Yet
June has done pretty much everything under the sun and then some, to go against Gilead. Less serious infractions have resulted in other people losing eyes and limbs, be hanged, sent to the Colonies, and even banished to become a jezebel. Yet June has gotten off every time with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, a stern look and words from Aunt Lydia, and maybe a lashing or two (remember that time when her feet were whipped after she tried to escape?)
We get that she’s the main character of the series, and she is very cunning, clever, and connected. But she seems to have escaped death one too many times whereas others have merely done a fraction of what she has and have suffered dire consequences.
9 That The Colonies Even Exist And No One Has Saved These Girls
We can understand that other nations might not be fully aware of what goes on in Gilead, including the torture and maiming. And even so, they might not be able to do anything about it since the society is governed on its own. But the Colonies seem like something that would capture the attention of other nations and spark intervention.
Essentially barren places that are totally contaminated with radioactive waste, women are sent there as Gilead’s form of jail, where they serve out a life sentence of hard labour. Eventually, the terrible conditions kill them. Supposedly located nearby the Mexican border, in states like Texas, how is it that Mexico hasn’t noticed and spoken up about the injustice of the situation?
8 Men Aren't Blamed For The Fertility Issues
It seems to be widely assumed that the fertility issues are coming from the women. Sure, if Commanders do their ceremonies with a handmaid and the handmaid becomes pregnant, it’s clear that the wife was indeed infertile. But what about the many handmaids who fail to get pregnant? Sure, some of the wives do realize that it's their husbands who are infertile. But did it ever occur to anyone that maybe the men should be punished for this too, and maybe some of the onus is on them as well?
This was clearly the case with Commander Waterford - even if Serena had fertility issues as well, it’s clear Fred could not bear children. June failed to get pregnant after having intercourse with him many times, yet instantly got pregnant from Nick. Why aren’t the men being considered for punishment if they are infertile, too?
7 How Do the Men Freely Visit Jezebels Without The Eyes Reporting Them?
If acts like infidelity are so frowned upon, and this is exactly why men, including Commanders, visit jezebels in secret, how do they get away with it while still claiming to staunchly follow Gilead’s rules and beliefs? It goes against the very fibre of what Gilead is about. Yet everyone is OK with men of power visiting prostitutes in a clandestine location?
Wouldn’t the Eyes, charged with finding those who commit sins, see these things going on and report the Commanders? Or does infidelity not count when it comes to jezebels? Remember when it was discovered that Janine’s commander slept with her outside of the ceremony? He had his hand cut off!
6 How Exactly Did Moira Escape?
Don’t get us wrong, we’re super-happy that Moira safely escaped and made it to Canada. But how did she manage to get out without being stopped?
It’s likely that, since she was working as a jezebel at the time, she may have already been outside of the checkpoints and thus had a clear path to escape. Chances are she went through a dark and dank forest until she reached that beloved maple leaf. It has also been said that perhaps since Moira was a jezebel, women of whom were supposed to be kept secret, no one could really put out an alert to locate her since she wasn’t supposed to exist in the first place.
5 Why Aren’t There Fertility Issues in Canada?
Either the same fertility issues don’t exist in Canada, just a hop, skip, and a jump across the border, or the Canadian government is dealing with it in stride, allowing women to do fertility treatments, focusing on adoptions, or simply seeing its population decrease. We know from the episodes with the Mexican Ambassador that Mexico hasn’t had a baby born in the country in 7 years and is experiencing the same fertility crisis. Why isn't Canada also declaring a national crisis?
In any case, if some issue impacted American (and Mexican) women, which the people of Gilead believe was the result of God punishing them for creating such a terrible society, are Canadians suffering the same fate?
4 Why Doesn’t Anyone Have a Boston Accent?
Perhaps enough time has passed and citizens of Gilead have been forced to re-train their voices. But given that the main location of the series is the city formerly known as Boston, why doesn’t anyone sport that very distinct Bostonian accent?
Of course the obvious answer is that most people living in Gilead traveled from many other locations across the U.S. Still, you’d expect that at least a few locals would still be around, speaking with their long “As” as they referred to the “Mah-thas” and Commander “Wadda-fuhd.”
3 Why Doesn’t Anyone Wear Glasses?
It’s clear now that Emily/Ofglen has escaped, that she requires glasses. But why wasn’t she wearing them in Gilead? In fact, when you think about it, not a single woman is seen wearing eyeglasses, yet many men do (Commander Lawrence, for one.) Why is this?
Are women forced to sport contact lenses? To remove anything that distracts from their face (minus the headwear that covers it, of course?) Are they simply left not being able to see properly? And if so, how do they get around without bumping into things, particularly for those who might have had very strong prescriptions? At least we know reading glasses wouldn’t be necessary since women of Gilead are forbidden to read.
2 How Do They Women Whose Mouths Are Closed With Rings Eat?
Remember the terrifying sight of those handmaids whose mouths were wired shut by rings? How do they eat? Sure, a liquid diet is a possibility. But isn’t it a handmaid’s duty to bear children for barren women?
Once one of these handmaids becomes pregnant, do they continue to eat liquid only, which is surely not sufficient for a growing child? Do their mouths get cut open? Are these women excused from their child-bearing duties? If the goal is to have these women bear happy and healthy children, how can they do that without the proper nutrition?
1 Why Does Aunt Lydia Think Torture Is OK?
Aunt Lydia truly believes that women have behaved badly and need to get back to their purpose of bearing children for powerful men to restore world order. We saw in her backstory as a teacher that she dealt with negligent mothers and children in her classroom who would show up with dirty clothes and insufficient lunches. So we (sort of) get where she’s coming from.
Yet how is it that she believes torture, maiming, and poking women with a cattle prod as though they are cattle is any better, or the right way to treat a human being? If she recognizes that children are precious, how can she treat these women who she believes have been given a gift by being fertile, as being deserving of such treatment when they are the ones who can bear these children?