Hulu’s new drama series, The Handmaid’s Tale, is about to hit really close to home… and that may seem unlikely since it’s based the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood first published 32 years ago.
The series, starring Mad Men alum Elisabeth Moss, takes place in the near-future when the United States has been replaced by Gilead, an autocratic theocracy run by religious fundamentalists who have obliterated women’s rights (no jobs, no wages) and turned the few fertile women left into handmaids who are forced to bear children for the ruling class. The themes especially resonate today given the current political battles over reproductive rights and women’s equality.
“The material is more personal to me than anything else I’ve ever done because of the parallel paths that I have to walk,” Moss said during a recent interview on Entertainment Weekly Radio (Sirius XM, Channel 105). “For me, as a woman who is a card-carrying feminist, these are all issues and things that are really important to me… I wish this was a fantasy; I wish it was sci-fi.”
“Margaret Atwood talks about that in order for a regime to take over, in order for there to be a coup, a lot of the elements of that new regime have to already be in place,” Moss continued. “And it is a quiet, slow burn, and when you look around and you see things like women’s reproductive rights being infringed upon, like the right to protest, journalists’ access, truth in journalism. When you see these things being infringed upon and rights being creepily, slowly stripped away, that’s the time before Gilead. It’s important that we all do look up from our phones and take notice.”
Hear more of Moss’ thoughts on the show’s timeliness, which was in the middle of production when Donald Trump was elected president:
Moss also served as one of the series’ producers, a role she says gave her much greater ownership of the entire series, which is being led by showrunner Bruce Miller (The 100).
Moss’ position as a producer allowed her to advocate for acclaimed cinematographer Reed Morano (Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Frozen River) to come aboard to create the look of the series and to direct the first three episodes. Here is Moss discussing that decision:
The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale are available on Hulu now. The remaining seven will be released weekly on Wednesdays.