In honour of the release of Margaret Atwood’s sequel, The Testaments, we review the worst spin-off merchandise from the show
Late capitalism has a furious penchant for rinsing as much shit merch from the cultural zeitgeist as is physically possible. Whitewashed Frida Kahlo Snapchat filter? You betcha. Sexy Halloween costume depicting a woman suffering under a dystopian totalitarian regime? Gimme!
While most merchandise from popular TV shows is ugly at best and crass at worst, turning phrases from The Handmaid’s Tale – a show where women are enslaved and forced to breed to ‘save the planet’ – into ‘girl power’ statements on wine glasses and bumper stickers is just fucking weird.
In honour of yesterday’s (September 10) release of Margaret Atwood’s new book, The Testaments – a sequel to her 1985 best-seller – we rank shit merch from The Handmaid’s Tale from bad to A Sin Against Humanity.
PRAISE BE YOUR BIRTHDAY
Given most birthday cards are either embarrassingly twee – “let the celebrations be gin” – or painfully unfunny, I’m going to cut The Handmaid’s Tale celebratory cards some slack. While I wouldn’t want to be reminded of gender inequality in a post-apocalyptic world – praise be, bitch – on my birthday, the shitness of most cards reduces the shock factor of this poorly thought-out design. xoxo
DON’T LET THE BUMPER STICKERS GRIND YOU DOWN
If you thought bumper stickers were reserved for lorry drivers who “eat ass” or Christians concerned about tailgating, think again. Now fans of The Handmaid’s Tale can get in on the action, so anyone driving behind them knows that not only are they cultured, but they fundamentally disagree with the oppression of women. If you’re wondering who might buy such stickers, you’ll find them at the Barbican mansplaining the plot of Mulholland Drive. Yes these are bad, but there’s worse to come.
BLESSED BE THE FROOT LOOPS
I didn’t realise there was such a big market for people who love both 80s dystopian literature and multi-coloured, sugary cereal hoops. Fair play to you, TBH, if you’ve got the confidence to rock one of these stickers on your office notepad – but if it doesn’t get you fired, you should probably quit. Despite being the most capitalist thing on this list, I’m giving the Froot Loops merch fifth place because in a weird way I kind of respect it. Please don’t @ me.
WINE FROM THE THEOCRATIC HILLS OF GILEAD
In July last year, online wine retailer Lot18 had to cancel its Handmaid’s Tale-themed wine after social media backlash. The company apparently created three wines inspired by “three bold characters” from the show – all of whom are either living in misery, or enforcing the violent dictatorship of men. Nobody should be drinking wine that tastes like cruelty against women IMO – mmm hints of suffocating authoritarianism! – but also wine is wine, and if I was served this in a restaurant without context I would probably enjoy it.
GUARDIANS OF THE WINE (AKA GLASSES)
While I can get on board with drinking Handmaid’s Tale wine, I draw the line at hand-wash wine glasses that tell me not to “confuse a woman’s meekness for weakness”. There’s absolutely no excuse for buying this over a normal wine glass.
SEXY HALLOWEEN COSTUME INCLUDING A BONNET TO PREVENT YOU FROM SEEING!
What better to dress up as for Halloween than a bold and sexy fertile woman who’s forced into sex rituals with men? This time last year, online lingerie and costume shop Yandy was rightly dragged for its sexy Handmaid’s Tale costume which encouraged women to speak their mind in an “upsetting dystopian future where women no longer have a say”. The skin-tight costume even came with a traditional white bonnet, worn on the show to prevent the handmaids from seeing, “but also from being seen”. It’s so cool being able to have your say! Astonishingly, this is not the worst merch out there.
ABOVE YOUR EYE ‘MAFA’ CAP
Donald Trump has done a lot of intentional damage since his election, but something we don’t talk about enough is the collateral destruction of the reputation of red hats. If you’re wearing a red cap, you have to accept that most people will presume you want to ‘Make America Great Again’. Unless, of course, you are a Margaret Atwood fan who wants to #MAFA (Make Atwood Fiction Again, duh!). These caps are the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life, mostly because the people who buy them undoubtedly think they are Doing Good. Atwood should sue not only the retailer, but every single person who buys one – wear your red cap in jail, you freaks!