Every reader knows it’s going to happen. When your favorite novel gets taken to the big or small screen, changes are made. The same is true for Hulu’s take on Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but producers are already assuring fans that alterations were made for the right reasons. At the Television Critics Association press tour, they revealed a few of the expected differences.
The dystopian story, originally published in 1985, takes place in the not-too-distant future. Fertility rates have nose-dived due to pollution, so the women who are fertile are forced to be handmaids. They have to keep the human race going. While the TV show follows that basic outline, some more specific changes have been made.
Once difference audiences can expect is a younger Serena Joy. Actress Yvonne Strahovski, 34, will play the woman that protagonist Offred (Elisabeth Moss) must conceive a child for. In the books, Serena Joy was older, but the executive producer Bruce Miller wanted the women to have more conflict.
“I was very mindful of the relationship between Serena Joy and Offred,” Miller said (via Variety). “It felt like they weren’t in competition. She wasn’t taking a role that Serena Joy wanted more than anything for herself.”
Those who watched “The Handmaid’s Tale” trailer already noticed one big difference. The white supremacy element is gone. Atwood’s book simply explained that minorities were sent to the Midwest, but Miller told TVLine that he had “a huge discussion with Margaret Atwood, and in some ways it is ‘TV vs. book’ thing.”
He continued, “What’s the difference between making a TV show about racists and making a racist TV show? Why would we be covering [the story of Offred], rather than telling the story of the people of color who got sent off to Nebraska?”
The decision was made to ditch the racist element. “Orange is the New Black” alum Samira Wiley will play Moira, Offred’s best friend and fellow handmaid.
Obviously, Miller can justify these changes, and it sounds like any other alterations will make sense too. The showrunner promised that he wasn’t throwing in twists just to keep readers on their toes. “We’re certainly loyal to the book, so any changes we make are mindful of the fact,” he noted.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” will premiere on Hulu April 26.