'Handmaid's Tale' Spoilers: Oprah Winfrey's Surprise Guest Role, Explained

Did you catch her "appearance"?

by Josie Rhodes Cook

If you blinked you may have missed it, but The Handmaid’s Tale delivered a very special “appearance” during Episode 11 of the Hulu hit series with none other than Oprah Winfrey. While brief, Winfrey’s secret guest role was inspiring and seemed particularly heartening for the show’s main Handmaid herself, June.

Spoilers for Episode 11 of The Handmaid’s Tale follow below.

During the episode, titled “Holly,” June attempts to steal a car from the garage of the deserted property on which she was abandoned. As she turns on the vehicle’s radio, she catches an inspiring message from none other than Winfrey, who plays an unnamed radio host broadcasting from an undisclosed location in the remaining America.

Broadcasting “somewhere in the great white north,” Winfrey’s voice can then be heard delivering the following message:

And now this news: The American Government in Anchorage today received promises of economic aid from India and China. In the United Kingdom, additional sanctions on Gilead were announced, as well as plans to raise the gap on American refugees relocating from Canada. Now a tune to remind everyone who’s listening, American patriot or Gilead traitor: We are still here.

We are still here. It’s easy to imagine how encouraging the message may have been for June following years of isolation from the world beyond Gilead. It’s not totally clear whether viewers are supposed to assume Oprah is playing herself in this scene, or whether she is simply delivering the news as a character with an inspiring voice and message. However, in terms of the scope of the Handmaid’s Tale universe, the underlying message is the most important part of the scene.

The radio segment Oprah recorded was inspired by the free radio of the Allies from World War II, The Handmaid’s Tale creator and showrunner Bruce Miller told Vulture in an interview published Wednesday. It’s all about bringing hope to the masses, whether they’re in America or Gilead.

But June, in particular, needed that hope in one of her darkest moments, and maybe viewers needed it too. And just hours later, that hope is proven to be just the beginning of what may be a light at the end of the tunnel for the determined handmaid, when June sees the arrival of her tiny newborn daughter Holly.

Oprah’s secret guest role was a welcome surprise not just for June, but for The Handmaid’s Tale viewers as well, who have not only been dealing with a dark season of television but arguably pretty dark times here in the real world too. Oprah speaking words of wisdom is maybe the exact antidote to the darkness that we all needed.