Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


IT USED TO be that movie bad guys drove nondescript cars purposely stripped of automaker logos. It was fine for the good guys, for instance James Bond and Frank Bullitt, to drive their iconic Aston Martin and Ford Mustang.

In these changing times, I guess any brand exposure is considered good exposure. Or so it seems with Mercedes-Benz and its appearance in The Handmaid’s Tale, the Hulu TV drama about a dystopian U.S. controlled by a totalitarian regime.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, 1st Anchor Books edition, 1998. The image here is of the original 1985 edition.

The Handmaid’s Tale, book and Hulu, now completed its Series Two, is set in Gilead, a theonomy that has overthrown the U.S. government. An addition to my governmental etymology, the word “theonomy’ is from the Greek, θεός, theos, god, and νόμος, nomos, law. A theonomy is a hypothetical fundamentalist Christian form of government ruled by divine law, including judicial laws of the Old Testament.

I wonder, does Mike Pence watch The Handmaid’s Tale?

Wikipedia provides a plot summary of The Handmaid’s Tale. The Republic of Gilead’s human rights are severely limited, with women’s rights strictly curtailed. Women are forbidden to read. Homosexuality, “gender treachery,” is a hanging offense.

The tale’s main character is Offred, that is, “of Fred.” She and other handmaids are chosen for their healthy reproductive systems, essentially breeding stock for the ruling class. (See Rachel and her handmaid Bilhah in the Old Testament Book of Genesis, 29:29.)

Offred develops an illegal relationship with the Commander, when they stray, beginning with games of Scrabble, from “the ceremony,” the ritual of government-ordained rape. She also gets to know Nick, the Commander’s chauffeur, who, with other dissidents, is part of an underground Mayday resistance.

Evangelicalism gone mad. Misogyny glorified. Institutionalized rape. Abuse of minorities, violence, and torture.

All with our favorite luxury car??

Automotive News, August 26, 2018, offers point and counterpoint in “Mercedes Plays Awkward Role in ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ ” by Urvaksh Karkaria.

Karkaria observes, “The Republic of Gilead’s sadistic leaders are ferried around in unmistakable G-class SUVs and S-class sedans. Dissidents are carted off in Sprinter vans. While other vehicles make cameos, no other brand gets so much exposure.”

Mercedes-Benz S-class sedans play prominent roles in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Image from Automotive News, August 26, 2018.

Mercedes-Benz USA told Automotive News, “We didn’t seek it out. It wasn’t one that we advocated for.… It’s not something that I’m clapping my hands about and high-fiving and saying ‘Isn’t that great?’ But as someone who is paid to do the best job possible of keeping the brand front and center, I don’t cringe.”

Above, Mercedes-Benz G-class SUV. Below, the Sprinter van. Images from

Any pitch is a good pitch. From Mercedes-Benz of Arrowhead, a Peoria, Arizona, dealer website: “These vehicles are a good fit for the series because they are tough looking and so innovative that they seem futuristic.… These vehicles work well with the environment and tone of the show.”

Okay, but would James Bond or Frank Bullitt drive one? ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2018


  1. MikeB
    September 2, 2018

    Didn’t somebody once say, “I don’t care what you say about me, as long as you spell my name right?”

    The other large vans on the market (FCA and Nissan) look much like the sprinter, with perhaps a few sharper creases. So it’s a fairly generic look these days.

    The G-Class and especially the S-Class look a lot like vehicles driven by those at the top of certain near-dictatorships. Again, fairly generic for those who rule over everybody else.

  2. Gordon Craig
    September 3, 2018

    Mercs have long been associated with Dictators, Hitler obviously, The Last King of Scotland another (film title on purpose, aka Idi Amin). The real vehicles become icons, the livery of despotic regimes.

    With much due deference to Margaret Atwood, its only a movie, what she authored is most important.

    As an alternative aside, to me Maybachs will always be associated with Christo, and the Central Park Gates. cheers, gordon

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