Public Service Announcement 18 of 2017: Fargo, The Handmaid’s Tale

Erstwhile on Fargo: we had season 1, which I thought to have “everything you could look for in a TV drama”. But that didn’t quite prepare me for season 2. When I reviewed the first episode I described it as “reach(ing) a kind of rapturous perfection”. The amazing thing is that it actually got better and better from there. After about four or five episodes I remember, almost in a state of stupefaction, wondering whether there was any limit to what this show could do, and convinced that I was watching something which wasn’t merely excellent, but which would go down as something of a landmark. In short, I can’t quite believe that there’s any room for improvement. Anyway, season 3 is set in 2010, stars Ewan McGregor (as twins!), Caroline Coon, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and appears to have the same delicious mixture of low-life crime and family deception. My only concern is that Fargo auteur Noah Hawley might be starting to spread himself a little too thin, as auteurs are wont to do (Wednesday 31 May, 10pm, Channel 4).

Interestingly, the other heavyweight reaching our screens this week is also on Channel 4’s terrestrial channel, suggesting that it is once more trying to establish itself as a home for prestige drama. It’s Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale which, if the reviews from America are to be believed, is the latest don’t-miss drama to come rolling off the Golden Age’s assembly line. The ridiculously talented Elisabeth Moss leads a cast which includes Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Joseph Fiennes, and Samira Wiley. (Moss is also a producer.) It may be, of course, that a show about the subjugation of women set in a dystopian near-future will have some resonance in a time when the American President can boast about sexual assault, and some extremist theocracies seem intent on returning females to the Dark Ages. We shall see (tonight, 9pm, Channel 4).

Also starting: season 5 of Netflix’s House Of Cards (Tuesday 30 May); and some nonsense about the Kennedys, on Channel 5 tomorrow at 9pm, in which the part of Ted is played by Chandler Bing (“Could I have been more drunk when I drove off that bridge?”).

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