Offred

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"Offred"
The Handmaid's Tale episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 1
Directed byReed Morano
Teleplay byBruce Miller
Original air dateApril 26, 2017 (2017-04-26)
Running time57 minutes
Episode chronology
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List of The Handmaid's Tale episodes

"Offred" is the premiere episode of the American television drama series The Handmaid's Tale. It was directed by Reed Morano, and written by Bruce Miller, adapting material from the 1985 Margaret Atwood novel The Handmaid's Tale. The episode debuted on the streaming service Hulu on April 26, 2017.

The Handmaid's Tale is set in a near future dystopia where a mysterious epidemic of female infertility spontaneously impacts women worldwide. The ensuing chaos results in a para-Christian cult overtaking almost all of the United States, renaming it "Gilead" and enforcing a strictly patriarchal theocracy. The viewers follow a woman named June but who is more commonly known as "Offred" because she has been assigned to a man named "Fred" to bear him children. Fertile women such as June are known as handmaids and are forcibly conscripted to bear children for childless couples. Storytelling in the series is routinely non-linear as June has flashbacks to the time before Gilead's rise and a possible resistance movement.

"Offred" debuted along with the second and third episodes of the series and the entire first season received universal critical praise. Imagery from the series has also influenced political protests to the presidency of Donald Trump and the popularity of the series has advanced star Elisabeth Moss' career as an actress and producer.

Plot[edit]

Moss smiling
Series star and producer Elisabeth Moss in 2017.

In a flashback sequence, June's family is pursued in the woods and armed men kill her husband Luke, abduct their child Hannah, and arrest her. Throughout the episode, viewers see subsequent flashbacks to her detainment, where she is sent to a facility with other fertile women who are beaten and indoctrinated to believe that their destiny is to please God through being handmaidens—women who are chosen to bear children for powerful couples who are infertile. Punishment is severe and strict for these women but also any other dissenters: academics, doctors, religious minorities (such as Catholics), and homosexuals.

In the present day, she is assigned to a new family and given the name "Offred"—all handmaidens' names change to a construction "Of __", named after the male head of a household. Commander Fred Waterford is a powerful member of the ruling insurgency in Gilead and Offred is assigned mundane chores such as grocery shopping but is also periodically raped in "The Ceremony" where he attempts to impregnate her while his wife Serena restrains her. Any time she is in public, she must wear modest clothing, refrain from eye contact with men, and is constantly accompanied by another handmaiden called "Ofglen", whom June despises for her piety. The streets are lined with armed guards and conspicuous black vans who abduct criminals in plain view to terrorize the populace.

One day, the duo attend a public ceremony where a man accused of rape is to be killed. Handmaidens are encouraged to savagely beat him in a "particicution" lead by Aunt Lydia, the woman who abused them in the flashbacks. Offred gives into violent impulses and takes charge kicking him to death. As she and Ofglen leave, her companion reveals that she does not believe in the theocratic cult ruling their lives and warns Offred that her household has a spy known as an "Eye" who may report anything suspicious. She doesn't give more information about how she learned this or who the Eye is but this revelation empowers Offred to remember that her true name is June and to find her child.

Production[edit]

The series was announced by Hulu in April 2016, with Elisabeth Moss starring as Offred[1] and serving as one of the producers.[2] The adaptation was created by Bruce Miller, who is an executive producer with Warren Littlefield, Fran Sears, and Daniel Wilson.[1] Miller also wrote the first three episodes and the season finale "Night". Atwood serves as consulting producer, giving feedback on some of the areas where the series expands upon or modernizes the book[1][3] and has a small cameo role in "Offred".[4] That June, Reed Morano was announced as director of the series[5] and Ann Dowd, Max Minghella, and Samira Wiley joined the cast in July,[6][7][8] followed by Madeline Brewer, Joseph Fiennes, and Yvonne Strahovski the following month,[9][10][11] and by Amanda Brugel and O. T. Fagbenle in September.[12][13] In October, Ever Carradine was announced as another actor,[14] and Alexis Bledel was added in January 2017.[15]

Filming for the first season took place in Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, and Cambridge, Ontario, from September 2016 to February 2017.[16][17] The series premiered on April 26, 2017.[18]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Critical assessment for the episode, first season, and series has been extremely positive. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the episode is assessed at 100% with an average rating of nine out of 10, meaning that all critics surveyed recommended watching the episode.[19]

Awards and nominations for "Offred"
Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2017 Primetime Emmy Awards[20] Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Ann Dowd Won
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Reed Morano Won
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Bruce Miller Won
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[20] Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Colin Watkinson Won
Outstanding Period/Fantasy Costumes for a Series, Limited Series, or Movie Ane Crabtree and Sheena Wichary Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More) Julie Berghoff, Evan Webber, and Sophie Neudorfer Won
2018 American Cinema Editors Awards[21] Best Edited Drama Series for Non-Commercial Television Julian Clarke and Wendy Hallam Martin Won
Art Directors Guild Awards[22] One-Hour Contemporary Single-Camera Television Series Julie Berghoff (for "Offred", "Birth Day", "Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum") Won
Cinema Audio Society Awards[23] Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour John J. Thomson, Lou Solakofski, Joe Morrow, and Don White Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards[24] Outstanding Directorial Achievement for a Drama Series Reed Morano Won
USC Scripter Awards[25] Best Adapted TV Screenplay Bruce Miller and Margaret Atwood Won

Popular reception[edit]

A woman in a long red dress with a white bonnet holding a protest sign
A woman at a 2018 rally dressed as a handmaid, protesting.

At the time this aired, digital streaming services like Hulu had no third-party services that publish ratings, such as Nielsen Media Research ratings for traditional broadcast television. Nielsen added Hulu and YouTube TV in July 2017.[26] The commercial success of the first few episodes can only be inferred by the network's decision to pick up a second season the same day that the fourth episode aired (the first three all debuted on April 26), announcing that "Offred" was the most-watched debut of any program on Hulu.[27] Women's rights activists began dressing as handmaids for political protests within three weeks of "Offred" airing[28] and the trend has continued for subsequent events such as Brett Kavanaugh's 2018 Supreme Court nomination hearing[29] and is had become a viral phenomenon by 2019, similar to Guy Fawkes masks used by Anonymous protestors several years prior.[30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Petski, Denise; Andreeva, Nellie (April 29, 2016). "Elisabeth Moss to Star in Drama Series The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  2. ^ Onstad, Katrina (April 20, 2017). "The Handmaid's Tale: A Newly Resonant Dystopia Comes to TV". The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  3. ^ Dingfelder, Sadie (April 13, 2017). "What Margaret Atwood Thinks of the New Hulu Adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  4. ^ Atwood, Margaret (March 10, 2017). "Margaret Atwood on What The Handmaid's Tale Means in the Age of Trump". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  5. ^ Jafaar, Ali (June 22, 2016). "Reed Morano in Talks To Direct The Handmaid's Tale Starring Elisabeth Moss For Hulu". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  6. ^ Petski, Denise (July 15, 2016). "Max Minghella & Ann Dowd Join The Handmaid's Tale Drama Series on Hulu". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  7. ^ Roshanian, Arya (July 25, 2016). "Orange Is the New Black's Samira Wiley Joins Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale". Variety. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  8. ^ Hipes, Patrick (July 25, 2016). "Samira Wiley Joins Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  9. ^ Prudom, Laura (August 23, 2016). "Joseph Fiennes to Star in The Handmaid's Tale for Hulu". Variety. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (August 19, 2016). "Hulu's Handmaid's Tale Adds Madeline Brewer". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  11. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 29, 2016). "Yvonne Strahovski to Star in Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  12. ^ Petski, Denise (September 7, 2016). "The Handmaid's Tale Casts O-T Fagbenle; Sofia Wylie Joins Andi Mack". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  13. ^ Petski, Denise (September 28, 2016). "The Handmaid's Tale Casts Amanda Brugel; Jemar Michael Joins Dear White People". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  14. ^ Pederson, Erik (October 27, 2016). "Ever Carradine Books Role On Handmaid's Tale; Sibo Mlambo to Recur On Teen Wolf". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  15. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 5, 2017). "Alexis Bledel Joins New Hulu Series The Handmaid's Tale as Recurring". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Dowling, Amber (April 26, 2017). "The Secrets from Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale Set Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  17. ^ Bailey, Katie (June 7, 2016). "The Handmaid's Tale to shoot in Toronto". Playback. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  18. ^ Petski, Denise (December 16, 2016). "The Handmaid's Tale Gets Spring Premiere Date on Hulu". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  19. ^ "The Handmaid's Tale – Season 1, Episode 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  20. ^ a b "The complete list of 2017 Emmy winners and nominees". Los Angeles Times. September 17, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  21. ^ Pedersen, Erik; Blyth, Antonia (January 26, 2018). "'Dunkirk' & 'I, Tonya' Take Top Film Prizes at ACE Eddie Awards – Winners List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  22. ^ Petski, Matt; Grobar, Denise (January 28, 2018). "Art Directors Guild Awards Live Blog & Winners List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  23. ^ Sheehan, Paul (January 10, 2018). "2018 Cinema Audio Society Awards nominations: Oscar frontrunner 'Dunkirk,' 'Star Wars,' 'Wonder Woman..." Gold Derby. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  24. ^ "DGA Announces Nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television, Commercials and Documentary for 2017". Directors Guild of America. January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  25. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (January 16, 2018). "'Wonder Woman,' 'Lost City of Z,' 'Big Little Lies' Among USC Scripter Finalists". Variety. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  26. ^ Ha, Anthony (July 27, 2017). "Nielsen′s TV ratings now include Hulu and YouTube TV – TechCrunch". TechCrunch. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  27. ^ Porter, Rob (May 3, 2017). "The Handmaid's Tale Will Continue to Be Told in Season 2 on Hulu". Zap2It. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  28. ^ Hauser, Christine (June 30, 2017). "A Handmaid's Tale of Protest". The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  29. ^ Beaumont, Peter; Holpuch, Amanda (August 3, 2018). "How The Handmaid's Tale Dressed Protests Across the World". The Guardian. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  30. ^ Ellis, Emma Grey (June 5, 2019). "Handmaids Tale Garb Is the Viral Protest Uniform of 2019". Wired. Retrieved June 9, 2019.

External links[edit]