A television tie-in certain to leave a bad taste in people's mouths both popped up and vanished this week — an incredibly ill-advised range of Handmaid's Tale-themed wines.
Unsurprisingly, the idea of drinking vino named after a dystopian series about oppression wasn't really what fans of the show, or anyone, was after. Similarly unsurprisingly, turning a program about women being forced into servitude and made to bear children for society's leaders isn't the kind of thing that makes you think 'yes, this persecuted character that's fighting for survival against institutionalised exploitation needs to have a wine named after her'.
Unveiled and then cancelled in the same week, Lot 18's 'Handmaid's Tale Trio' was comprised of a pack of two reds wines and one white wine named after three of the show's main figures. "The bold characters of The Handmaid's Tale are celebrated in these three collectible wines, specially crafted to highlight the personalities of Offred, Ofglen and Serena Joy," states the wine's now-defunct online listing. Offred was badged as a "smooth, earthy, and similarly seductive" French Pinot Noir, Ofglen a Cabernet Sauvignon that supposedly offered "a daring testament to the heights that Oregon Cabs can reach" and Serena Joy a sophisticated, traditional and austere" Bordeaux Blanc.
First reported by People Magazine, the wines were swiftly scrapped after being made public. Adapting Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel into a television series might make for compelling viewing — and might even make viewers keen for a few soothing drinks while watching the grimly gripping show — but using its female characters for merchandising purposes is a badly thought-out move to say the very least.
And, unlike Sydney's forthcoming Gilead development, it was a marketing tactic undertaken with full knowledge of the show, its content and its themes. In the case of the masterplanned New South Wales community that shares its name with The Handmaid's Tale's dystopian society, the term Gilead springs from the bible and has been used in Sydney for two centuries — even if now trying to promote a site with that moniker is incredibly unfortunate.