Top 10 Facts About Hulu's 'The Handmaid's Tale'
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
The Handmaid's Tale is a Hulu series about a dystopian future starring Elisabeth Moss as Offred. Based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, the series also stars Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley, Joseph Fiennes, and Yvonne Strahovski. Want to know more about this new show? Check out these 10 facts!
Top 10 Facts About Hulu's 'The Handmaid's Tale'
The latest dystopian series hits a little too close to home. Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Facts about Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale".
For this list, we’re looking at interesting and little known facts about the latest adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s famous novel. And don’t worry, we won’t be giving any major spoilers for the show’s first season.
#10: This is Not the First Adaptation
Margaret Atwood’s classic tale of a society gone wrong had been given several adaptations before Hulu’s version was released in 2017. In 1990, a feature film was made starring Natasha Richardson as Offred but it wasn’t very successful, earning less than five million dollars in box office sales. The BBC also created a dramatized radio rendition of the novel’s story which was made by John Dryden in 2000. There have also been several stage plays based on the story. Based on critical reception so far though, it looks like Hulu’s version may be the most well-loved adaptation yet.
#9: It’s Renewed for a Second Season
Before the entire 10-episode series was even completely aired, it was announced that Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” would be getting a season two. Hulu wouldn’t share any exact figures, but their reps have stated that this has been the most successful launch in the history of their platform in terms of both original and acquired content. We don’t know which actors will be returning, but the second season will be released in 2018, meaning fans won’t have too long to wait to get updates on their favorite characters.
#8: Margaret Atwood Makes a Cameo
Fans of the author will recognize a familiar face in a brief scene in the show’s pilot episode. Atwood plays a small role as one of the “Aunts” who take part in a ritualistic ceremony where the girls are essentially brainwashed and forced to shame the others for things like being raped. Though Margaret Atwood remains out of focus throughout the shot she’s featured in, her curly hair is distinct and recognizable. Atwood said she found the scene to be very upsetting to film even though she was “just pretending”.
#7: Reed Morano Also Worked on Beyoncé's Lemonade
The director of the first three episodes of the Hulu series also has another major accomplishment on her resume. While many directors, producers and cinematographers collaborated to make Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade” the masterpiece it is, Reed Morano is credited with working on the portion for “Sandcastles.” Morano was the youngest woman to be part of the American Society of Cinematographers when she was asked to join in 2013, and is among only thirteen other women who are part of the Society.
#6: The Audiovisual Experience Is Mind-Blowing
For the most part, the score for this dramatic series has been fitting for a darkly sinister story. The creators have however included several additions to their soundtrack that are surprising yet fitting. Since “The Handmaid’s Tale” is set in an unspecified near-future world, featuring popular 80s hits is a jarring and effective choice. By including recognizable pop songs that have been strongly associated with other famous properties, the producers are able to evoke emotions in the audience. The use of color is also important to the visual representation of the story, but we’ll touch more on that later.
#5: There's a Women's March in the Show
Many people have commented on how relevant “The Handmaid’s Tale” feels in the new era of Trump, but the creation of the show wasn’t a reaction to his election. In fact, Hulu had put the project into production long before November of 2016 when he ascended to the White House. Interestingly, the show even features a women’s march in flashback scenes that were filmed long before the record-breaking 2017 Women’s March. The message of “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been used in feminist protest culture for years, with references to the book often appearing on picket signs.
#4: The Series Shows a Racially Integrated Society
Unlike Margaret Atwood’s novel which was published in 1985, the Gilead of Hulu’s series is more advanced racially than the world of the book. In the novel, African Americans are referred to as “Children of Ham” and have been segregated into a separate population located in the Midwest. There was much discussion between the producers of the show and Atwood as to whether they would keep or change this storyline. In the end though, they decided that to exclude people of color from the story would be detrimental to the message of the show.
#3: The Cinematography Is Very Important
In the original novel, Margaret Atwood designates different colors to be worn by the members of each class of people in Gilead. The crimson shade of the Handmaids’ uniforms represents fertility and evokes Mary Magdalene, the biblical sinner. The blue that wives wear mirrors the shade that the Virgin Mary was often depicted in. Reed Morano says that these colors are key to the Technicolor process which makes them a natural pairing for gorgeous imagery, as well as a visual representation of the caste system that exists in the society.
#2: The Name ‘Offred’ Has an Interesting Origin
If you’ve been thinking that the names of the Handmaids are strange, you’ll be interested to know the thinking behind them. Each Handmaid is named for the man that she “belongs” to, therefore Offred is literally interpreted as “Of Fred”. Similarly, her friend “Ofglen” is “Of Glen”. In the book, readers never learn what Offred’s real name is, but fans who undertook close readings noticed the mention of the name “June” in one scene of the story and have attached it to the protagonist. The show creators decided to use this as her name from her past life.
#1: The Writers Room Is Full of Women
It’s only fitting that a show with a strong feminist message is mostly created by women. Showrunner Bruce Miller may be male, but he made sure to fill his writer’s room with women who would be able to use their shared experience to create the world of the show. Because of the nature of the story, much of the cast is made up of women as well. Of course, author Margaret Atwood was also a consultant for the show and lent her opinions for how the story should best be adapted for the screen.