A Colorful Dystopia: An Analysis of the Color Scheme in Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale


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This thesis project focused on the color scheme featured in the first three seasons of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The series is based upon Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel and was adapted into a Hulu original series in 2017. While the series’ content is similar to that of the novel, the producers altered Atwood’s color descriptions to cast a narrowed design aesthetic, resulting in a strong, seven-color scheme showcased through the costumes, set designs, and props. The color scheme then provides viewers with a blueprint for understanding Gilead through pattern recognition, creating metaphorical significance. This study examined HMT’s color scheme by assigning a metaphor to each color and illustrating the metaphor through the series’ production elements. The colors were examined both individually and collectively to determine the color scheme’s impact on the storyline. As a result, the study determined that color is a driving force of HMT that creates a deeper understanding of the storyline through the metaphors identified. In turn, HMT’s use of color creates a unique television experience for many viewers.



The Handmaid's Tale, color research


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