To understand how this show is so symbolic and important to the current political climate, we must take a look from a distance and then go from there.
If you haven't seen the hype around the internet recently with the recent Abortion Bill passed in Alabama, you might be unaware of how the show came to be. The trademark red cape and bonnet, alongside a pair of "wings", or a visor of sorts, have come to light even on news media through riots.
This femininity movement came to be from a book published in 1985 by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The original book told by the perspective of a young mother, who remained unnamed- referred to as "Offred". The book follows a dystopian distant future in which war breaks throughout the United States. This war creates a new society named Gilead. As the country had gone through a sense of 'unreligion', the society had created a new form of life, and a place where fertile women had no say in anything - a world where men had complete control over all. Due to all the toxic air in the atmosphere from the large war, women are losing children to either birth defects, or miscarriages- resulting in many becoming infertile.
Gilead believes in a country without war, and a country based on the disciplines of the Bible. Although they don't allow women to read, they believe that women should live by the scripture and serve the Lord in all concepts.
Though there had been other remakes, none gained attraction like the recent Hulu Original Series. First aired in 2017, it is now nearing the middle of its third season. Before we discuss who would play the beloved characters, lets first discuss who they are in the show, for any newcomers to the fandom.
"Everything Handmaids wear is Red: the color of blood, which defines us."
Addressed earlier, the Handmaid's adorn a red robe and dress - alongside a bonnet and "wings". These wings are meant to keep each of the Handmaids' eyes only towards God. Cheating in Gilead on anyone else but their Commander is considered a sin, resulting in their method killing choice - hanging. Or, drowning - considering the circumstances.
They take on the name of their Commander. In June's case, she goes by Offred.
"OF - FRED"
If they disobey God, they can be severely punished. They are meant to serve God by bearing children for the rich wives of the Commanders, who are known to be infertile. They are meant to create the future of Gilead and carry down God's teachings... But at what cost?
If you try to escape the country, disobey someone or commit a sin, you may be punished by:
- Whipping in the feet or bottom (Shown many times throughout the 3 seasons).
- Clipping of the Clitoris (Shown with Emily after she committed sins - cheating with a Martha and running over multiple people - in Season One).
- Dismemberment of a body part. Instances consist of eye (Janine), pinky (Serena), and other varieties shown in the bar scene in Season One, where Commander Waterford brings her to a secret underground bar. Limbs such as legs, eyes, and mouths were cut and closed throughout.
- Drowning by weights in a pool (Shown in Season 3).
- Hanging on a wall, or shot on a wall to hang in front of all the witnesses.
- Punishments such as standing in the rain and holding a rock for hours, and burning of hands (Shown in Season 2, where others stand up with Offred in not killing Janine).
“Then we had the irises, rising beautiful and cool on their tall stalks, like blown glass, like pastel water momentarily frozen in a splash, light blue, light mauve.”
The Wives of Gilead (who use their real names) are often adorned in Blue- a symbol of the Virgin Mary and their motherly duty. They are a very important value to the Gilead society. They are the wives of the Commanders and are the highest power of women in the hierarchy. Most wives are infertile and dream of having Children- though most often, their husbands are the ones that are sterile and can't reproduce.
The Wife who we see the most in the series is named Serena. As she cares for her child and the future of Gilead, she becomes overcome with the toxicity of the land and people, overusing her power since the beginning.
They treat the Handmaids like useless people, though they are bearing their child for them. They can go to great lengths to dismember, and even kill their beloved Handmaids - seen in Season One when they flashback to when the first Offred hanged herself in her bedroom due to the overwhelming guilt that Serena had caused her.
Much like the Handmaids, they must wear a certain colour to keep them apart and be distinguished. They are usually dressed in dark blue, a long dark (or light, depending on the occasion) dress, with hair tied up in a neat bun.
"Ordinary is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary." - Aunt Lydia
Aunts in Gilead, are meant to be a person in the society whom you can trust. They are adorned in brown and serve as a means of guidance to the Handmaids. The most prevalent Aunt in the drama, Aunt Lydia, is known as a love/hate character. As she is only doing her job in order not to get killed and hung on the wall- she holds back most feelings she has for the girls; thus hurting each one of them more. Other Aunts throughout Gilead have been shown to treat the Handmaids very viciously. As seen in the most recent episode in the series (S.3, Ep.6), DC Handmaids have their mouths closed shut (and most likely their tongues were taken out as well.)
Commanders are the most powerful men of Gilead. Clad in black suits, they represent death and threat. Black is the colour of the vans around the country that carry the people of power from one place to the other.
The most distinct and powerful commander of Gilead is Commander Waterford, June's first station as a Handmaid. She makes acquaintances with him, though he is a man of greed and deception. Him and Serena (Mrs. Waterford) created the society while preaching from books right at the start of the war.
"Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse for some." - Commander Waterford
Their main purpose in Gilead is to create a family with their wives through impregnating Handmaids, and they will go through harsh lengths to make this happen.
Other members of society that are not as prevalent:
Marthas (who use their real names), are infertile women who do not qualify for the high status of Wives and so work in domestic roles - serving as nannies, cooks, and even as personal servants that assist in any way in the house. They are adorned in a light grey (ish) or light green - the colour isn't apparent and very dull. Their green robes symbolize nature and health to the people they serve and keep clean. The Martha we see the most is Rita. She becomes a friend to June in later seasons.
The Marthas are household servants, given the generic name ‘Martha' after Martha the sister of Mary of Bethany, the friends of Jesus.
Most Marthas know each other and help each other escape - as this becomes prevalent in the past season. They team together to create a safe route for June to get her baby to Canada safely.
Econowives are part of the outskirts of Gilead. They are wives who bore their own children and work, but are still limited to serving all the different social roles mentioned previously. In the book, they wear “striped dresses, red and blue and green and cheap and skimpy”, a mix of colours. While in the series, they wear a dark grey robe with a knitted hat, scarf, boots, and gloves. We only get to see a glimpse of them though - as they are seen briefly when June is in hiding. She steals an outfit from the Econowife she met the morning previously, attempting to flee to Canada.
At some Colonies, women must burn dead bodies. At others, people have to clean up toxic waste or radiation, and since it’s cheaper not to feed the workers well or give them proper protection, they all die in around three years.
All of the infertile women that are not wealthy or related to power, are betrayers of the law, or have no other purpose, are sent to work in the colony. The workers, both women and men, are dressed in grey dresses. The plain colour - symbolizing their lack of importance to society.
The torture they are put through can be described as Holocaust-like conditions, making many direct comparisons throughout the series. They are put in abandoned warehouses, with poisoned lead water and decrepit living conditions.
Guardians of The Faith
In an early scene showing Gilead to the viewer throughout the series, guards are apparent. "Guardian" is a broad term for these men. They serve as the personal soldiers, bodyguards, and servants of Commanders. They are likely to still be serving their country after surviving the war.
Other names/ duties for these men:
- Soldiers/ Military
Now that we have the history of the novel and roles of Gilead out of the way, let's discuss who would play the best character in an adaptation.
Offred (June Osbourne)
Reasoning >> Ever since I saw Seo Ye Ji play an excellent main character in Save Me, I think she could play a great June Osbourne. Her will and determination are strong components to the role- especially since this won't be her first rodeo dealing with religious concepts. I love Ye Ji, and she will continue to wow everyone just like Elizabeth Moss has.
1. Seo Ye Ji
2. Kim Ji Won
3. Jung So Min
4. Nam Ji Hyun
Have any other suggestions? Let me know!
Reasoning >> The first person I thought about when I was introduced to Nick's character was D.O. He and D.O have a natural way of keeping a resting bitch face, which makes them look mysterious to the viewer. This can come in handy if they are hiding a large secret. They also both look hot in black suits.
1. Do Kyungsoo
2. Lee Gi Kwang
3. Ok Taec Yeon
4. Yoo Ah In
Reasoning >> Jung Ryeo Won - a more recent veteran actress who has starred in her fair share of challenging roles, is an easy choice for Serena. Won looks like an actress who can portray Serena's strong traits - being easily liked by others, and convincing others how Gilead is meant to bring forth great things. (Spoiler alert, it doesn't.) This was the hardest character to choose since Serena has so many sides to her that are difficult to set apart.
Who do you think has the necessary amount of evil/ love to play this character? Comment below!
While searching on a whim, I came to a picture of Choi Shi Won. Saw a still from She Was Pretty and had a feeling that he would make a great Luke. (This wasn't meant to be added - but here you go.)
Commander Waterford (Fred)
Reasoning >> While looking through the men I had in mind for this role, they all seemed to be too baby faced to me. Though it is in their facial nature to appear more baby faced, we need a man with a lot of facial structure to play the main Commander. He is well respected in Gilead and is the driving force for the country in general. After seeing Song Seung Hyun in Black, I came to the conclusion that he is the best candidate- most likely because he can adjust to Waterford's constant bipolar swings.
2. Lee Dong Wok
3. Ha Suk Jin
Reasoning >> Being Aunt Lydia (or any Aunt in Gilead) is a tough role. While they have to maintain the good order of discipline, they must not get attached to their girls. Yoon Yoo Sun, having played many challenging roles in the past - can portray the indescribable feeling of hidden sorrow - without showing too much to get replaced and hung on the wall.
1. Yoon Yoo Sun
Reasoning >> Ever since I saw My Mister, IU has been constantly on my mind. Her character is beautifully thought on- and it gave me what I needed to put her as Emily. Emily is one of the tougher characters, having to hide her sexual identity in order to survive Gilead, and to not become a "gender traitor." If anyone were to escape Gilead, IU would be the first to try.
2. Park Hee Bon
3. Jung So Min
Reasoning >> The scene that got me the hardest was when Janine nursed her baby back to health. She is a glowing soul, haunted by her past life and wanting things to return to normal. Kim Seul Gi and her red hair in Oh My Ghostess have almost parallel storylines. They are taken from their home and put into a world they don't know how to control. Seul Gi would make a wonderful Janine and is one of the only people (in my opinion) that can really use her creative liberty with her acting.
1. Kim Seul Gi
2. Kim Go Eun
3. Jung Yoo Jin
Moira (June's Best Friend)
Reasoning >> Through flashbacks since the very beginning, Moira has been a large part of June's life. They are best friends and are there for one another - even when they go through hardships. It took me a while to find someone to match her spirit - and it was only until I saw the Song-Song divorce that I remembered Hye Kyo's character in Descendants Of The Sun. They are both strong willed and very smart, and it was very evident to me that they carry the same amount of force when they act.
1. Song Hye Kyo
3. Nam Ji Hyun
These are all of my opinions. They are not to be taken too seriously, and open discussion is encouraged. I would love to see who everyone would like to see as the main characters (or even side characters)!