In a world where women get paid on average 80 percent of a man’s dollar, where the issue of abortion is being taken into the hands of male politicians, and where rape culture is a commonality on many college campuses, there could not be a better time for the new television adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Originally published in 1985, the book was written as a commentary on politics during the Reagan Era as well as modern Puritanism in America, according to an interview with Atwood published in the New York Times in March 2017. But with the current political climate,  Atwood’s story is more relevant than ever, and definitely worth the watch.

The television version of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” created by Bruce Miller, kicked off its first season on Hulu in April and won eight Emmy Awards, including the coveted Outstanding Drama Series award. The adaptation, which is extraordinarily eerie and beautifully filmed, shines a light on current American politics.

It tells the story of Gilead, a society set in New England in the not-so-distant future in which women have been stripped of all rights after a plague of infertility. The story focuses on the “handmaids,” whose sole purpose is to get pregnant for their “commander.”

Atwood’s story focuses on a handmaid named Offred — or, “Of Fred,” a reference to her master after she loses her original name, June. Played by Elizabeth Moss, probably best known for her role as Peggy Olson in the series “Mad Men,” Offred rebels against the system in her own ways after her daughter and husband are taken away and she becomes the property of Fred Waterson.

While Offred is the narrator and lead character, other characters are the real heros.

Ofglen, portrayed by Alexis Bledel, is by far the most complex character, though she is featured in a only few episodes. Ofglen is a handmaid who belongs to an underground rebel group fighting to overthrow Gilead’s government. However, in the show, Ofglen is labelled a “gender traitor,” meaning she is lesbian, and is punished for having an affair with another woman. While Ofglen barely speaks, Bledel, who won an Emmy for her role, displays passionate emotion in her facial expressions alone. Her silence depicts women’s lives as being dictated by others, left with no voice in society or politics.

The commander’s wife, Serena Joy, played by Yvonne Strahovski in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale, holds her copy of the bible after women are banned from reading. Serena was a religious zealot in her past life and she encouraged the movement that resulted in the society told in the story. However, a part of her character’s struggle is her regret at her decisions and her bitterness towards the Offred. Art by Anna Promokhova.

When she is punished, she has a surgery that suggests female genital mutilation. This is an homage to modern day female circumcision in places in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In a later episode, Ofglen steals a government official’s car and drives off in protest of women being prohibited from driving. This is similar to Saudi women’s protests against laws prohibiting females from driving. In the series, Ofglen’s journey is the most intriguing, while in the book she just disappears leaving readers wondering about her fate.

The costumes play an important role, as each color reflects a different class of women: the wives of commanders are blue, representing purity and symbolizing the Virgin Mary. The handmaid’s dress is red, the color representing menstruation and childbirth.

Music, too, is masterfully crafted to meet the shows requirements. The original score (composed by Adam Taylor) ranges from rock to slow jarring melodies, and works in hand with the cinematography (Colin Watkinson), which features repeated uncomfortable close-ups, adding an extra layer of creepiness.

In the story, societal changes are gradual. In flashbacks, Offred’s husband consoles her by saying it will all blow over, which of course was not true. In Gilead, the male-dominated society starts with sexism in the workplace and results in the loss of all rights. Women are restricted from driving, reading, keeping money, or having jobs, so that men have the ability to control their bodies and minds.

In both the book and the TV adaptation, the story functions as a criticism of modern American society. Both now and in “The Handmaid’s Tale” the government uses terrorist attacks as an excuse for restricting freedoms, religion is used as a weapon to attack the rights of other groups, the environment is being destroyed, and it is increasingly difficult to tell the difference between fact and fiction in the media.

When leaders make sexist jokes and justify them by saying “it’s just locker room talk” and there is fear of loss of civil liberties because of a clear dehumanizing of minority groups, one might be lead to wonder, is the United States closer to becoming Gilead than people think? As stated chillingly in both the book and the TV show:

“This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.”