Hulu ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ EP Explains Change to Novel’s White Supremacy
Hulu’s take on The Handmaid’s Tale is nothing less than a terrifying and timely triumph, but readers of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel will notice some major changes from the book. In particular, executive producer Bruce Miller explains why the show’s Gilead oppression concentrates on gender and fertility, where the original’s dystopia also extended to race.
You’re warned of light spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale from here on out (the first three episodes are available to stream on Hulu), but the original novel did more than subjugate women in the republic of Gilead, making repeat references to men and women of color relocated to “homelands” in the midwest. Hulu’s adaptation instead prominently incorporates diverse actors like Samira Wiley and Max Minghella, as Miller tells TVLine it would be a mistake to focus on Offred’s story over racial subjugation:
What’s the difference between making a TV show about racists and making a racist TV show? Why would we be covering [the story of handmaid Offred, played by Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss], rather than telling the story of the people of color who got sent off to Nebraska?
Miller expressed similar sentiment to BuzzFeed, noting they’d made an executive decision to concentrate on women’s fertility:
When you’re dealing with politics and power and religion and misogyny at this kind of level, to throw in race relations seems like a little too much to chew off in one narrative setting. Fertility trumps everything. I’m making that decision for them, but it seems like a logical decision they would make.
It should be noted that sexuality also plays a major role in the TV series, as both women and men are repeatedly punished as “gender traitors.” The first season will undoubtedly plumb deeper into the oppressive regime (to say nothing of a second moving beyond the book), but do the changes in any way impact Atwood’s original vision?
The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale are available to stream on Hulu, with subsequent episodes arriving weekly.