It’s never a particularly fun time to be a female character on television, but it’s especially true these days. In recent weeks, two high-profile series have found themselves dealing with delicate subject matter, but it’s the nuances of how they each approached their individual sexual assault storylines which ultimately defines their quality.
In “The Last Ceremony,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” deliberately strips away the normalization that the powerful men of Gilead have achieved for the systematic rape of women which underlies its society. It does so with a slap to the face, as the pregnant Offred/June (Elisabeth Moss) is forced into another “Ceremony,” theoretically to help advance her pending labor, but also as a means by which Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) can reassert their authority over her.
Producer Yahlin Chang, who wrote the episode, felt the brutality