The opening montage is a classic one: the New York City skyline illuminated against a night sky, drenched in purple light. But this isn’t Sex and the City—instead, it’s Handmaids in the City, SNL’s send-up of the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s seminal 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.
“In 2018, The Handmaid’s Tale is basically our Sex and the City,” a voiceover narrates, leaving no doubt as to the reference. The SNL sketch, which aired Saturday night, stars episode host Amy Schumer, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, and Cecily Strong as a close-knit circle of handmaids who pass the days (when they’re not being forced into sex with their male commanders) gossiping (within reason; guards loom over their shoulders) over standard-issue cafeteria food in a sterile bunker. There’s nothing like a bit of brunch-time girl time.
The sketch opens with Schumer, as Offred, the titular handmaid played by Elisabeth Moss in the Hulu series, bantering about the bags under her eyes. “Stop, Offred, you know it doesn’t matter what we look like,” Strong replies. “As long as we’re fertile!” Schumer responds, singsong. The gallows humor only gets more obvious from there: Aidy Bryant, as Ofjohn, describes her apartment as rent-controlled, meaning, “John controls me, and I don’t pay rent.” Ofwarren, played by Kate McKinnon on SNL and Alexis Bledel in The Handmaid’s Tale, describes how she lost an eye: “This is what I get for reading a newspaper.”
So very hashtag-relatable, right? After all, as the tagline goes, “If you’re not traumatized, you’re not watching TV.” (The first season of The Handmaid’s Tale was such a success, in part, because it remains so prescient more than 30 years after its initial publication, but this point is particularly salient now given the criticism levied at the series’ second season, alleging it has leaned too far towards torture porn.) “You’ll laugh; you’ll cry,” the narration adds, “You’ll say, oh, this so could be me and my friends—you know, with the way things are going.”