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PaleyFest 2018: Cast Shares the Importance of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ In Today’s Society

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

One of the many shows being honored during the 35th year of PaleyFest, The Handmaid’s Tale follows a woman trapped in a dystopian nightmare where she is forced to try and conceive a baby for one of the commanders in charge and his wife.

The show, based on Margaret Atwood’s novel, carries some weight to it, and while the events that occur may seem outrageous, it doesn’t seem too far off from where our society is heading today.

The first season shows June Osborne, AKA Offred (Elisabeth Moss) dealing with the fact that she has been separated from her family and must do everything the leaders expect of her, or painful consequences will ensue. Throughout the season, we see June suffer great hardship and misery, but through her experiences, she finds the strength to carry on. In the last episode, it is unknown what is going to happen to June, as she is carried off in one of the black vans that the women have come to be so afraid of.

Although the first season ends where the novel does, there is so much more to be explored in the world of Gilead. During a panel held at the Dolby Theater, the cast and crew came together to discuss where the show will now go after the pages of the book ended.

The event began with a video from Elisabeth Moss, who could not make it to the panel, giving her love to the fans and the actors of the show. After her short recording, fans were then treated to a recap of the first season of the show, followed by three clips from the upcoming season.

Next, Variety’s Debra Birnbaum introduced the cast and crew, which included creator Bruce Miller, Madeline Brewer (Janine), Max Minghella (Nick), Samira Wiley (Moira), O-T Fagbenle (Luke), Yvonne Strahovski (Serena Joy), Amanda Brugel (Rita), and EP Warren Littlefield.

Then the event got started, and the questions began pouring in.  

It can always be hard to bring something to life that has lived on the pages of a novel for so long, and the cast and crew keep that in mind every day on set and in the writers’ room. They are all so grateful to be a part of something so extraordinary. Just after seeing the show brought to life after being so familiar with the work of Atwood and the many adaptations of her novel, Amanda Brugel thought to herself “Oh my gosh. We have something special.”

And boy, was she right. The show’s following has only gone up, and that is all thanks to MGM, Hulu, and Margaret Atwood herself— “MGM and Hulu never put restrictions on the writing staff,” noted Warren Littlefield. Bruce Miller even stated that sometimes Atwood gives them too much license to run with and that he “want[s] to grow up to be Margaret.” Needless to say, without all of them, the show would not be even half of what it is.

The impact of the show in this political climate and the subtle comments that it makes on our society is something that does not go unnoticed. Samira Wiley stated that this show is “something that brings real truth to our lives today, and what we’re doing can elicit real change.” Adding to that, Yvonne Strahovski finds that it is “incredible what this show has inspired” and her “hope is that it continues to happen.”

Another important element about this show is the inclusion of women and female stories. The next season has a majority of female directors, and the writers are constantly making sure they are understanding the female perspective when they themselves might not be female. Alexis Bledel has even been cast as a series regular for the next season, adding to the amazing female ensemble.

A few spoilers were let out during the panel, and audiences can expect to see a lot more of June’s daughter, Hannah, as the story line majorly focuses on the relationship between mothers and daughters. Watchers can also anticipate someone escaping Gilead this year, as well as the introduction of several new characters.

Praised be, indeed. 

Catch up on season one of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu now, and watch out for new episodes coming starting this April.

Photos Courtesy of Brian To, Emily Kneeter and Michael Bulbenko for the Paley Center

Emily is a graduate of UCLA and former Senior Editor of Her Campus at UCLA. During her free time, Emily loves to read, travel and binge-watch episodes of Gilmore Girls. She can be reached at emilylentz47@gmail.com.
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