The Handmaid’s Tale and Margaret Atwood’s original novel; where the show stands compared to the 1985 novel. Writer Bruce Miller shares how he made changes for the Hulu series.
The Hulu series is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel and aired its first season on April 26th 2017. The show instantly grabbed its audience’s attention with its intense story line and incredible acting by the cast. The series is true to the novel’s main focus which revolves around a society with declining birth rate, forcing fertile women to bear children for wealthy couples. However, the show made subtle changes for the audience in today’s society to understand and reflect current times.
Bruce Miller’s story
Writer and producer Bruce Miller explained how he implemented changes to the show in an interview with TIME. Miller said “If we changed something, we did it thoughtfully and for a reason. We discussed the repercussions of each change with Margaret. It’s been a very active conversation back and forth.”
Additionally, to explain how he’s expanded the story he said “One of my favorite things is the stuff in the hospital with Hannah being born. That’s mentioned in the book, but we also thought there was an opportunity to explore, “What does the falling birth rate look like to us, not in a newspaper or on CNN but on a day-to-day basis from June’s perspective?” And an empty maternity ward is really that.”
Serena Joy’s Age
Miller pointed out “I think one of the more notable changes is the age of the character of Serena Joy. “Even though I don’t think her age is given a number in the book, she certainly seems a lot older than Yvonne Strahovski, who is the actress playing her.” the character plays a crucial role in the show. Therefore, the writer stated “Serena feels something she should rightfully be doing right now is being done by someone else”
Offred’s mother and real name
The writers found it difficult to show flashbacks in the show without revealing the real name of Offred. Originally in the novel , Atwood never revealed her birth name. However for the show, they introduced the name by the end of the first episode of season one.
The book portrays a clash between Offred and her mother who was shown as a women’s rights activist. She believed that Offred’s generation did not appreciate sacrifices made by feminists. Miller said that he didn’t want to generalize June’s life towards feminism.He stated “The mom was one of them. Something about her felt dated, and we ended up not including her in the first season.”
Offred’s background and Character
Several flashbacks shown to the audience give details on June’s background. They also give insight on how the state Gilead came to be, from sexism to fertility crisis. The writers elaborated her backstory more than Atwood’s novel.
Offred is portrayed as a more passive character in the book as she prioritizes to survive rather than to rebel. In the series, her character is noticeably more headstrong. She’s perceived to be obedient however, her rule breaking attitude makes the character more likable according to Miller. In the show, Offred is first to attack the man while in the book she chose not to, even though the government allowed it.
The show embraced diversity as more Characters from the show identify from different races and as LGBTQ. In the show when June’s best friend Moira came out, she doesn’t seem to have any problem adjusting to it as it was shown in the book.
Miller explained in the interview “In the book, it’s an all-white world. That was a very big discussion with Margaret about what the difference was between reading the words, “There are no people of color in this world” and seeing an all-white world on your television, which has a very different impact.” He continued “What’s the difference between making a TV show about racists and making a racist TV show where you don’t hire any actors of color? So that was part of it.”
The season is currently on its 5th episode.