The documentary City of Ghosts begins at a black-tie gala in New York City. A group of Syrian men mingle with donors and have their pictures taken. “Maybe a little smile?” a photographer asks. But they are thinking about the struggles of their home city, where there is little smile about. They are part of “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently,” a group of citizen-journalists who have documented the human-rights abuses of ISIS in the city of Raqqa, Syria.
I first watched the trailer on the same day the first episode aired and was instantly intrigued. The history buff inside me initially took it as a historical series due to Elizabeth Moss’s hood and petticoat. As the video went on I realized that the plot was much more complicated than meets the eye.
Of course, this was all happening in the middle of finals week, so I decided to postpone watching the series until after my exams were done; until then I did a reasonable amount of research. To be brutally honest: prior to watching the promo, I had never heard of Margaret Atwood’s feminist novel. The plot immediately blew me away—set in New England, a Christian fundamentalist group overthrows the U.S. government, replacing the Constitution with a very strict, Puritan-esqe version of the Bible. Bit by bit modern working women are stripped of their jobs, bank accounts, and identities. They are reduced to their fertility and levels of obedience. The fertile ones become “handmaids” forced to bear children for the new society’s elite and their barren wives.