Yesterday, People reported that Lot18, an online wine retailer, was releasing a wine collection themed around the Hulu series The Handmaid's Tale. Lot18 has released many other wine collections whose themes are inspired by hit TV shows like Saturday Night Live, The Walking Dead, and Outlander that diehard fans of these programs adore, and because The Handmaid's Tale is currently one of the most talked about shows on television, the company probably thought it made sense to create wines bearing Offred, Ofglen, and Serena Joy's names. What it failed to consider, however, is why the show has been getting so much attention.
This is a TV series about a dystopian society where women are forced into sexual servitude and made to reproduce against their will. People can't stop talking about the story because it's horrifying and feels disturbingly close to home during this particular moment in American history, when the rights of women, minorities, and migrants are under seige. If the folks at Lot18 had stopped to think about the reason people can't look away from their TV screens when this show's on, they would have hopefully seen that The Handmaid's Tale doesn't exactly conjure thoughts of fun, casual nights in with your girls. Sure, some of us may like to have a glass of wine to help us cope with the troubling images presented in each episode, but we most certainly do not need that wine to be directly inspired by the characters we are watching being mentally, emotionally, and physically abused.
Though other disturbing shows like Game Of Thrones have gotten wine lines without backlash, since the entire premise of The Handmaid's Tale revolves around sexual assault, this collection seems especially distasteful. And the fact that each wine's individual description was crafted to reflect these horribly repressed and battered characters is wholly unappetizing. According to People's initial report, Serena Joy’s 2016 Bordeaux Blanc was going to be "sophisticated, traditional, and austere," Offred's 2017 Pays d’Oc Pinot Noir was described as "a powerful experience you will never forget," and Ofglen's 2017 Rogue Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was expected to have a "spicy" finish. Reading that made you feel gross, right? Well, you're not alone.
Since Lot18 was for some reason unable to foresee any negative reaction to the Handmaid's Tale-inspired line of wines, the announcement was made yesterday and orders were opened. Around nine hours later, however, Lot18 along with MGM, the production company behind the Hulu series, decided it would not be selling the wines after all. We reached out to Lot18 for comment on its decision to pull the wine but have yet to hear back. However, the decision seems to have been a direct result of the wines receiving an intense and almost immediate backlash on social media.
The fact that this horrible idea got so far without anyone questioning it is pretty disturbing, but not nearly as disturbing living in a world where a Handmaid's Tale wine collection exists. Praise be, the women of Twitter spoke up!