Now that America has become a genuine dystopia, the impending adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale seems less fictional than ever. In fact, several signs at the Women’s March on Washington read, “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again” and “The Handmaid’s Tale Is Not an Instruction Manual”. The story depicts a version of America where a totalitarian regime takes advantage of fears about Islamic terrorists in order to seize power. They then proceed to remove nearly all women’s rights. Protagonist Offred (Elizabeth Moss) is a Handmaid, a concubine who is assigned to be used by The Commander (Joseph Fiennes) for reproductive purposes. But she’s not the only fascinating character. Here are some others Hulu’s adaptation should include.
1. Offred’s mother
Offred’s mother has a small role that is purely in flashbacks, but she’s an unapologetic feminist who stands for everything the new regime is trying to crush. At one point, Offred even sees a video of her as a younger woman involved in a protest. As the show is expanding the roles of some side characters, there’s ample opportunity for Radical Feminist Mom.
Luke is another figure from the “before” portion of Offred’s life, back before America turned into Gilead. Like her mother, he exists in flashbacks, as Offred married him after having a passionate affair. Their relationship not only stands for everything she has lost in the new world, but it also gives the audience context into just how things have changed and what the counter-cultural escape movement is like. While it remains to be seen how prominent he will be, he will appear in the show, played by O.T. Fagbenle.
Ogflen, who will be played by Alexis Bledel, is a fascinating character it seems the show is rightly expanding upon. She is a lesbian — which is dangerous in a biblical society focused on women as the objects of men and sex as a reproductive tool. Although Offred initially doesn’t trust her, she ends up being the audience’s way into the underground resistance movement. It remains a bit vague in the book, but hopefully the show can take a deeper dive.
Nick is a driver Offred has an affair with in the present day, who is either a spy for the government or a member of the underground resistance. He later pretends not to recognize her. As this also happens in The Heart Goes Last, it’s an oddly specific Margaret Atwood trope. Nevertheless, the question of Nick’s true allegiance is one of the most tantalizing and ambiguous aspects of the novel. As he’ll be played onscreen by Max Minghella, he’s yet another character the show has an opportunity to flesh out in a fascinating way. If our world is turning into The Handmaid’s Tale, we’ll take any peeks at the resistance we can get.
The Handmaid’s Tale airs on Hulu on April 26.