“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll say, ‘Oh, my God, this so could be me and my friends with the way things are going…’”
Sex and the City and The Handmaid’s Tale are, without a shadow of a doubt, polar opposites. The latter – based on Margaret Atwood’s feminist dystopia – details a bleak American future where women are forced into a life of sexual servitude and surrogacy.
SATC, on the other hand, is an entertaining look at the romantic lives (and sexual adventures) of four fashionable, free-spirited and fabulous women in New York City.
However, during a recent episode of Saturday Night Live (12 May), Amy Schumer and a team of comedians managed to mash the two shows together, creating something deliciously dark – and painfully funny – in the process.
“Let’s face it, ladies. In 2018, The Handmaid’s Tale is basically our Sex and the City,” announced a voiceover, kicking off the concept in style.
“So whether you’re an Offred or an Ofwarren, you’ll love Hulu’s all-new spinoff show, Handmaids in the City.”
As the camera pans over Schumer, Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon dressed in those iconic red capes and white bonnets, the voiceover added: “It’s a show critics are calling ‘so brutal’ and ‘more uplifting than the news’.
“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll say, ‘Oh, my God, this so could be me and my friends with the way things are going.’ ”
Just like SATC and The Handmaid’s Tale, the show kicked off with a thought-provoking internal monologue.
“As I waited for the girls in downtown Gilead, I was feeling like an uptown gal-ead, and I couldn’t help but wonder: Are women allowed to do anything anymore?” Schumer thinks to herself, before complaining to her fellow handmaids about the bags under her eyes.
“Oh, stop it,” Strong says. “You know it doesn’t matter what our faces look like.”
“As long as we’re fertile!” Schumer responds, much to the glee of her pals.
Things quickly get darker, as McKinnon’s character explains she’s had a “little work done” (read: had her eye removed) after daring to read a newspaper.
She also confirms that she’s lost weight, when Strong praises her svelte new appearance.
“I gave birth,” quips McKinnon. “Does that count?”
Check it out:
The sketch ends on a horrifying note, as McKinnon reveals that “my commanding officer Warren and I are having issues. It’s his ex. His last handmaid hung herself, and he’s just not over it.”
Schumer, clearly styling herself as Gilead’s Carrie Bradshaw, quips: “So you’re saying he’s hung up on her.”
It is at this point that a military office shoves a stun gun into her side, electrocuting her.
“As I was getting tased, I was shocked at my lack of rights in this new world,” comes Schumer’s voice, narrating the twisted scene, “but [also] amazed by how stunning I look in red.”
If some thought the skit was in bad taste, though, the show’s tagline hammers home the point that the dystopic future detailed in Hulu’s critically-acclaimed series is not all that far removed from our own.
“If you’re not traumatised, then you’re not watching TV,” insists SNL.
It’s a point that has been made by Atwood herself, who recently told The Guardian: “When [my book] first came out it was viewed as being far-fetched. However, when I wrote it I was making sure I wasn’t putting anything into it that humans had not already done somewhere at some time.”
To put it more succinctly, Atwood’s tale is based on real-life events – and she went on to warn that history often repeats itself.
“You are seeing a bubbling up of it now,” she said, referring to President Trump’s abortion gagging order. “It’s back to 17th-century puritan values of New England at that time in which women were pretty low on the hierarchy.
“We think as progress being a straight line forever upwards. But it never has been so, you can think you are being a liberal democracy but then — bang — you’re Hitler’s Germany.
“That can happen very suddenly.”