'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 5 Review: Critics praise strong performances but show fails to offer something new

Elisabeth Moss and Yvonne Strahovski give strong performances but it seems the series still has the problem of being repetitive, as per critics

'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 5 Review: Critics praise strong performances but show fails to offer something new
Elisabeth Moss on the official poster of 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 5 (Hulu)
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The Handmaid’s Tale’ has undoubtedly been one of the most riveting dramas on television in recent years and its popularity is a testament to the show’s success. The series, which began in 2017, is set in a world where fertility rates have collapsed as a result of sexually transmitted diseases and environmental pollution, women are facing a lot of difficulties in leading a life that is honorable. However, a woman named June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) doesn’t want to live that way and tries to escape the totalitarian government to reunite with her family.

Over the course of four seasons, viewers have seen June doing anything and everything to get back to her daughter and start a new life where she is allowed to do anything. The first three seasons received universal acclaim, but the fourth edition faced a lot of criticism for not being able to do something unique with such a strong story and garnered mixed reviews. A lot of people expected the makers to rectify their mistakes with Season 5 and now that a handful of critics have seen the latest edition of Hulu’s dystopian drama, it seems they have managed to do something better with the story this time around.

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The first wave of reactions is already out and although critics are praising strong performances, there are a few things that they still could have been much better. Variety’s Daniel D’Addario gave the series a positive review and said that the show excels when it treats its “characters as real”. He added, “The new “Handmaid’s” approach allows for a different kind of insight. It’s another reversal: The show, in its fifth season, excels when it treats its situations as symbolic.”

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Elisabeth Moss as June Osborne in 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Hulu)
Elisabeth Moss as June Osborne in 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Hulu)

Meanwhile, Collider’s Abby Cavenaugh gave Season 5 a ‘B-‘ rating and opined that the fifth edition is “full of heavy-hitting drama, and emotional scenes”. On the other hand, Screen Rant’s Brittany Witherspoon noted that the series “doesn’t always adequately execute its themes”, but the Season of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is still very much “enjoyable” and very “satisfying”.

However, there were some critics who didn’t like the new season for being ‘repetitive’. IndieWire’s Ben Travers gave a ‘C’ rating to the series and said that “five years and 54 episodes later, both the series and its stars are hitting their limits”. He added, “The Hulu series points toward pertinent conversations — about human rights, state's failures, and personal responsibility — but has little to say itself.

Tara Ariano from Vanity Fair also felt the same and wrote, “The Handmaid’s Tale is a past Emmy winner for outstanding drama series. It’s also bonkers. But unfortunately, the show can’t commit entirely to camp mode.”

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Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy in 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 5 (Hulu)
Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy in 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 5 (Hulu)

Comicbook’s critic Nicole Drum didn’t shy away from calling the latest edition “repetitive”. She also noted that the season takes too much time to gather steam and reach where it actually intended to. She wrote, “The series takes too long to get there, meandering its way with a lot of repetitive scenes, moments, and even story.” Even though the reactions have been mixed, every review praised the performances of Elisabeth Moss and Yvonne Strahovski.

The reactions suggest that Season 5 of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ will be polarizing once again and when it premieres on Hulu, there might be a lot of extreme reactions from viewers. Nevertheless, the show has been renewed for a sixth and final season, meaning we are in the endgame now.

The show also stars Madeline Brewer (Janine), Max Minghella (Nick), O T Fagbenle (Luke), Samira Wiley (Moira), Bradley Whitford (Commander Lawrence), Ann Dowd (Aunt Lydia), and Amanda Brugel (Rita).

The first two episodes of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5 will be released on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, at 12.01 am ET.

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