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

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Alias Grace

What it’s about: Also based on a Margaret Atwood novel, Alias Grace is a fictional portrait of the very real Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant convicted of murdering her employers in 19th century Canada. Both the book and the six-part miniseries see an incarcerated Grace recounting the story of her life to a psychologist, Dr. Simon Jordan.

The Gilead connection: Alias Grace never gives us a clear-cut answer about Grace’s innocence or guilt. All I know is — if she is, indeed, a murderess — she did what she had to do to get by. While not quite as oppressive as Gilead, Grace’s environment is an unrelenting slog in its own right. Misogyny chips away at her humanity and sense of self, just as it does with June.

Truth be told, Grace is quite the enigma. She adopts and discards personas frequently, depending on the situation she’s in, and the man she’s hoping to assuage. She’s a people-pleaser for her violent drunk of a father. She’s a naive plaything for the young men of the house she serves. She’s a beacon of girlish innocence for her employer Mr. Kinnear. She’s a sultry temptress for her fellow servant, McDermott. She’s a damsel in distress for Dr. Jordan. And she’s a martyr for her eventual husband.

This will sound familiar for anyone who has witnessed June’s pivoting personality. The way she is with Commander Waterford is different from how she is with Serena Joy is different from how she is with Aunt Lydia, and so on.

However, neither woman is duplicitous or two-faced by nature: they’re just surviving. If they’re not allowed to be themselves, they obviously have no choice but to pretend to be someone else.

Where to watch: The full miniseries is on Netflix.