The Handmaid's Tale has now descended to torture porn - and not in a good way

Torture porn or feminist literature? This has been the dilemma for those of us who stuck with season two of The Handmaid's Tale (Sunday, Channel 4, 9pm).

Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 10:06 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 11:08 am
Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid's Tale

Season one was a straight adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel and was quite simply one of the best things on television, ever.

Brutal and shocking it certainly was, but it was also smart, funny, spiky and with great music.

Season two, which ended on Sunday, departed from the source material and made up a new story, although Atwood was still a series consultant.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It follows June, aka Offred, still struggling to navigate through the cruel and totalitarian world of Gilead – where women have no rights and are regarded simply as breeding machines for the fundamentalist Christian ‘commanders’.

Elisabeth Moss, for my money one of the most watchable actors working today, turns in another tour de force as the enslaved handmaid and the supporting cast are also great.

The story crackles forth with great impetus and the shock value is as high as ever.

But this season lacked the lighter touches, funny asides and moments of hope of the first, making it a bit of a slog to watch at times.

An hour of unrelenting brutality every week can start to feel more like a chore than a pleasure, and with another series already in the piepline there are doubts as to where this was going.

Still a good watch, but it might have been better if TV executives had resisted the temptation to spin this one out and ended on a high note with one – entirely perfect – season.