The totalitarian future regime of Gilead approaches, both in the real world and in the dystopian world of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. As Hulu’s screen adaptation draws closer, there are naturally questions of how it will diverge from the books. Recently, it was announced that it will have one major difference: the way it depicts race.
Executive producer Bruce Miller told TV Line, “Honestly, 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 added an intriguing comment about how the adaptation choice is part of the mentality to continue the story, rather than simply adapt the book as a one-season mini series. Framed in that light, The Handmaid’s Tale could be a show in the same vein as The Leftovers, which had a second season that explored corners of the world that were plausible within the book’s world but were not touched upon.
Atwood’s original novel has rich potential for such exploration, like the underground Mayday resistance movement. The slim novel gives an impression of skimming the surface of a much larger iceberg. If the show can find a way to shine a light on it and feature representation in a way that suits the show to today’s world, it could very well be one of the most provocative shows of 2017.