When author Margaret Atwood wrote her book The Handmaid’s Tale, the Republic of Gilead was an all-white society. However, Gilead in the show is more diverse. Atwood reacted to this change in an interview. The Handmaid’s Tale’s showrunner, Bruce Miller, and star Elisabeth Moss, discussed their reasons for making the story more diverse.
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ author on adding diversity and cell phones into the show when they weren’t in the book
The Handmaid’s Tale book revolves around a group of religious extremists who create a state called the Republic of Gilead and banish people of color from it. However, in Hulu’s version of the story, people of color are not banished from Gilead.
During an interview with Time, Atwood discussed the issue. She said The Handmaid’s Tale book was written at a time when interracial couples were less common. She wanted the new version of The Handmaid’s Tale to reflect the modern world rather than the time period she wrote the book. Atwood noted this was not the only way Hulu updated her book, as the series also includes cell phones.
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ showrunner explains changing the author’s original vision for the book
During an interview with Insider, showrunner Bruce Miller said current events inspired him to change this aspect of the story. “The world of Gilead in the book is a totally white world that sent everybody of color away,” he said. “In the 30-something years [since Atwood] wrote it, a couple of things had happened, and this was all just kind of my thinking. I’m not going to the Census Bureau and finding out whether all these things were true, but my sense was that the Evangelical movement had gotten a little more diverse in terms of race. So that there would be more diversity within a group like the Sons of Jacob, which is the group of very religious people who take over.”
In addition, he said the current world of adoption inspired him to change the original story. “But also I don’t think anybody knows someone who doesn’t have a child of another race these days because international adoption become so much more common,” he said. “I think the discomfort of raising a child of a different race has almost vanished in our lifetime.”
Miller added another reason why he thinks people of color would not be banished from Gilead. The world of The Handmaid’s Tale only comes into existence because of low fertility rates. He feels if the world was really concerned with raising fertility rates more than anything else, race would no longer be an issue.
Elisabeth Moss weighs in on the issue
In the same interview, Elisabeth Moss said she wanted the show to be relatable. She wanted people to see themselves in the show. While The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in a reality very different from our own, some of the people behind it wanted it to reflect the diversity of the actual world.
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