Return to Gilead: 10 shows to check out if you miss The Handmaid’s Tale

11 of 11


What it’s about: The everyday happenings at a (very corrupt) women’s prison in Australia. Most of the inmates have been convicted of violent crimes, and most of the guards themselves dabble in law-breaking at one point or another.

The Gilead connection: There’s plenty of overlap between Gilead and prison. Yet I think the strongest point of comparison between Wentworth and The Handmaid’s Tale is their inclusion of a seemingly pleasant middle-aged woman who is actually terrifying. Imagine Mrs. Weasley from the Harry Potter books using the Cruciatus Curse on one of her children. That’s the best way I can describe Wentworth’s Joan Ferguson and THT’s Aunt Lydia.

Ferguson joins Wentworth in season 2 as the governor, or what we’d call the warden. At first, she’s relatable, if not quite likable — she has to be unrelenting and tough in order to do her job. But in her personal life she’s warm, kind and genuinely seems to want what’s best for the inmates under her care.

Whelp, that’s just a manipulative ruse, as is everything Ferguson does during her arc. She’s a power-hungry sociopath who will do and say anything to feel like she is in control. Even when it seems she’s making some progress and connecting to someone, it’s short-lived. Ferguson is willing to offer her friendship but expects perfection in return — and no human can offer that.

Ferguson is basically a slightly better dressed Aunt Lydia, but might actually be worse because she believes in nothing. Aunt Lydia is nuts but — like the Catholic nuns Ann Dowd based her upon — she genuinely thinks her brutality is for the greater good. Then again, maybe Lydia is scarier. Ferguson can be bought with the promise of power. As for Lydia, she wants for nothing because she apparently has God on her side.

Where to watch: Seasons 1-5 are on Netflix. Season 6 is currently airing in Australia, and, once concluded, will most likely be released on Netflix.

Next: The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 finale review: The Word

Until The Handmaid’s Tale returns, “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”