I recently had the delightful experience of watching The Handmaid’s Tale show at the same time as I read The Handmaid’s Tale the book by Margaret Atwood. Season 1 of the show follows the book so exactly it’s incredible, and impossibly well done. The main change of note from page to screen was the diversification of the cast, which was a very nice update.
Watchers may recognize the star character Offred played by Elisabeth Moss from her previous roles in Mad Men and The West Wing; best friend Moira is now a gay African American woman played by Samira Wiley, whom everyone will know from Orange Is the New Black. Madeline Brewer, also from OITNB, plays Janine, while Nick is played by Max Minghella, previously of The Mindy Project. Ofglen, now a gay woman, is played by Alexis Bledel, of the long-running Gilmore Girls. OT Fagbenle plays Luke, who is also now an African American character.
The other main difference from the book is that watchers of the show get to see what is happening with Luke, while readers and the Offred of the book are left wondering, wishing they knew. Season 1 ends the same way the book ends, so subsequent seasons are the invention of the show makers. But in an unexpected turn of events, Margaret Atwood recently announced that she will write subsequent volumes, making the stand-alone novel the first in a series.
Especially now, in an America under Trump presidency, the limitation of liberties and sexist oppression of women is hauntingly familiar. Atwood foresaw with frightning accuracy the ways that a society could be collapsed. Let’s keep marching, signing petitions, and doing everything we can to fight against prejudice.