Elisabeth Moss clarifies comment that "Handmaid's Tale" is "not a feminist story"

Jeannette Daniel
April 28, 2017

Rather than releasing an entire season all at once, like Netflix does with its original series, Hulu will pursue a more traditional release schedule for its new adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale.

"It's not a feminist story; it's a human story, because women's rights are human rights", she said. Moss' character is given the name Offred, literally meaning "of Fred". "And you know, as a woman in this business, I so admire other women who have taken that step themselves and taken some ownership of their career and gotten either behind the camera or gotten involved as a producer". Now women are forbidden to read and are monitored as closely as they are in Saudi Arabia.

DEGGANS: Hulu's show depicts women stripped of husbands, children, jobs, their own money and control over their sexuality.

"I had no interest in it just being a title card", she says, "and I was extremely lucky".

At the center of this tale is Offred (Elisabeth Moss), a wife and mother who is ripped from her former life and placed in the home of a young commander (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena (Yvonne Strahovski). This new society is called Gilead. The first installment, directed by the groundbreaking Reed Morano, is as compelling an hour of television as any produced so far this year.

"You get asked to play Offred in The Handmaid's Tale and you're kind of a fucking idiot if you don't say yes". How Offred came to be a handmaid. How this society works and her place in it. Still, she has a deep inner monologue (presented as narration in the book and voice-over on the show), which Moss found as both a challenge and an opportunity.

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In fact, this show has a "wonderful" way of being right.in. your. face. We see her and Offred in a world that looks an bad lot like ours. She's what we would be like, in that situation... (Those are author Margaret Atwood's words.) She's checked out.

In addition to being drawn to the part because of her family's love of the story, Brewer was eager to work with "an fantastic cast and just a very talented group of people attached to it at every level". Black vans, used by the "Eyes" (secret police), are in nearly every background.

"What she finds out is so much worse".

Brewer said her character is a bit "prickly, but likeable". But soon, a fellow handmaid, Ofglen (Alexis Bledel), reaches out to her, and they open up to each other. Even the ugly scenes are pretty. "We have an enormous wave of marketing we're able to ride", says Bland. It was my one genuine laugh during the episode. "She actually created the cage herself". "It was the best", she laughs. But her big break came when she played President Bartlet's daughter Zoey in The West Wing. A doctor. A gay man. "I think the edition will have a very long shelf life beyond the life of the series. This wasn't the punchline". Ofglen had assumed that Offred was a true believer and vice versa-you can't trust anyone in Gilead-but subsequently they form a kinship.

DEGGANS: In a country where sexual harassment scandals regularly land on the front page, the patriarchy of "The Handmaid's Tale" doesn't feel so far-fetched, which is the most horrific thing about it.

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