‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ on Hulu versus The Book

June 25, 2017 GMT

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood was originally published in 1985, which details a dystopian society where infertility has caused an upside down society. Men are the sole proprietors in the entire system. The government was brought down by “The Sons of Jacob” who have taken everything over and it has become Gilead, a military dictatorship.

Women are no longer allowed to work and are subjugated to their husbands or the men around them. Many of the Commanders, high members in the government, have wives who are infertile.

They are given handmaids who are then given a symbolic name of their commander, for example the protagonists name is “Offred” literally of Fred, who is the commander she is serving.


Handmaids are the fertile women in society who are given few tasks, bear children for the commander’s wives, pick up groceries for the house, and do whatever the Aunts say.

The most interesting thing about Atwood’s story is she has a unique perspective on government and the possibility of many ideas getting out of control. Atwood’s novel is considered speculative fiction, which in essence means taking trends to the extremes.

She was writing during a time of extreme feminism, moralism, and theocracy. When Hulu bought the rights to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Atwood was given a small cameo during a particularly difficult scene where all the Handmaid’s turn on one of their own, blaming her for being gang-raped. She stated that it was difficult to watch because it had a particular significance in a bully riddled society where blame is easily pointed at others.

Even though the story is written in first person of Offred, she offers a unique perspective of the events of Gilead. Hulu has put together an impressive reproduction of Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale.” One of the tricky things about putting a novel on film is the time allotted.

With a television series, there is less of a concern about cutting out key scenes. Hulu definitely kept the most important pieces of the story to keep the essence of this dystopia.

Margaret Atwood helped produce the series, so she was integral in the feeling of the series. Personally, I think it is important to have the author in on production because it allows the depth of the novel to come out on screen.

After binge-watching the entire series, it is honestly one of the better reproductions I have seen. Elizabeth Moss plays the key character of Offred. Her face was quite expressive during her “inner turmoil” scenes of playing coy or flirtatious with the Commander, while trying to get what she wanted.


Serena Joy Waterford was played by Yvonne Strahovski (you may know her from the TV series Chuck). She was impressive as the religious wife of Commander Waterford, played by Joseph Fiennes. Both Strahovski and Moss definitely vie for the strongest female characters in this series.

The colors are striking in the series. The Handmaids are dressed in red while the wives are in a striking blue. There aren’t any other bright colors and the settings are definitely stark and the contrast between blood and the white of the walls is clear in many scenes.

The book is great and the Hulu series definitely did a marvelous job putting together the missing pieces, possibly moving it into a new season. I highly recommend reading the novel before watching the series.

It is definitely for mature audiences and deals with nudity, sex, and other trauma. It is worth reading because it speculates on ideas that are becoming increasingly possible every day. Give it a chance, it is worth reading and watching.