A frustrating Handmaid's Tale gets a bunch of things almost right—and one thing exactly right

Aunt Lydia, grieving for the loss of women she thinks are children, women she tortures but thinks she nurtures, calls out words that she believes to be names. She weeps, because she believes. She makes it a ritual, the calling of those false names, because she knows rituals have power—to comfort, to manipulate, to…

The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 remains as difficult to watch as it is to resist

The first season of The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu’s adaptation of the eponymous Margaret Atwood novel, made for some of the best TV in 2017. Every bit as harrowing as its source material—in which the few fertile women left in the world are reduced to incubators by an oppressive, theocratic regime—Bruce Miller’s series was…

The Handmaid’s Tale confronts the inevitable in a gripping hour

The word “shock” gets trotted out a lot when discussing The Handmaid’s Tale. It can be a shock to the system: you don’t have to look hard to see Gilead in our world, right now ; the show also goes out of its way to make it plain that the advent of Gilead was swift and far too easy. It’s also shocking in the way that…

In which The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t let the bastards grind it down

The first gift of a certain four-word phrase to an imprisoned woman is the gift of mystery. Were that its only function, the mystery itself would be enough, tethering a splintering mind to something other than happy, grief-stricken memories. Still, the phrase then transforms: it’s a lifeline, then a friend, then the…

Alexis Bledel’s shattering, wordless performance anchors a brutal Handmaid’s Tale

“Late” is 53 minutes and nine seconds long, and that includes the credits. In those minutes, Alexis Bledel utters not a single word. She only makes two, maybe three sounds. One of them is a moan of despair. The last is a a scream. It’s filled with rage and horror, lasting all of one second. It is the most cathartic,…

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The 35 best TV performances of 2016 (and one worst)

With more scripted television programs in production than ever before, it follows that there are now a wider range of opportunities for television actors. Looking back at the performances that caught The A.V. Club’s eyes in 2016 confirms that hypothesis: While some of our favorite character actors found new facets of…

Samira Wiley on playing therapist to the Worst patient

Samira Wiley didn’t have to look far to find inspiration for Justina, her character on You’re The Worst. “My mother, actually, is a therapist,” she told The A.V. Club about playing the woman saddled with the thankless task of providing counsel to the extremely resistant Gretchen (Aya Cash). As depicted in the show’s…

OITNB’s Samira Wiley is heading to the dystopian world of The Handmaid’s Tale

We’re still not over the fact that Samira Wiley won’t be on Orange Is The New Black anymore. At least she landed a recurring role on You’re The Worst, which seemed, at the time, like the best news imaginable. But it apparently gets even better: The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Wiley will also co-star in the…