Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
April 29, 2016 2:48 PM   Subscribe

Elisabeth Moss will star in a 10-episode Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood is a consulting producer; The 100's Bruce Miller wrote the script and is an executive producer along with Daniel Wilson (The Handmaid's Tale feature film), Fran Sears (The Sophisticated Gents) and Warren Littlefield (Fargo).
“The Handmaid’s Tale is a project that we have been committed to bringing to life as its story remains as powerful today as it did when Margaret first published her novel,” said Mark Burnett, president of television and digital and Steve Stark, president of television development and production at MGM. “Handmaid’s Tale has won multiple awards inspiring a film, a graphic novel, an opera, a ballet and finally, for the first time, a compellingly immersive drama series that has found the perfect home at Hulu and its star in Elisabeth Moss.”
Atwood previously on Metafilter.
posted by melissasaurus (62 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well that's timely.

/eyes certain states, political parties.
posted by Artw at 2:59 PM on April 29, 2016 [42 favorites]


Bruce Miller wrote the script and is an executive producer along with Daniel Wilson (The Handmaid's Tale feature film), Fran Sears (The Sophisticated Gents) and Warren Littlefield (Fargo).

I can't find any demographic information about Fran Sears, but if this is a production of The Handmaid's Tale made entirely by men* I'm going to set my Hulu on fire.

*Atwood gets an EP credit for financial purposes, it is unlikely she will have any control over the production itself.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:04 PM on April 29, 2016 [22 favorites]


And the star is a Scientologist. Perfect.
posted by NorthernLite at 3:09 PM on April 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


AM I ASLEEP IS THIS A DREAM WHAT'S HAPPENING I'M FLOATING ABOVE MY BODY WITH JOY
posted by SassHat at 3:10 PM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


if this is a production of The Handmaid's Tale made entirely by men* I'm going to set my Hulu on fire.

Can't find gender or race for Wilson or Sears, but apparently they together produced Sophisticated Gents, which the NYT says was "about black people." Maybe they're going for the bingo card of movies about those with lesser privilege.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:13 PM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


*Atwood gets an EP credit for financial purposes, it is unlikely she will have any control over the production itself.

No idea about control, but she has read the scripts for the first two episodes and says they're "excellent."
posted by melissasaurus at 3:25 PM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


So this is pretty much going to be a documentary instead of a cautionary tale this time?
posted by vuron at 3:25 PM on April 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


And the star is a Scientologist. Perfect.

PEGGY NO
posted by thesmallmachine at 3:26 PM on April 29, 2016 [36 favorites]


Jinx, Artw

Timely, and scary.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:29 PM on April 29, 2016


I've never had any movie or tv show scare me as much as this book did. I hope the miniseries brings it.
posted by phunniemee at 3:36 PM on April 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


Hulu production = no one in Canada, Atwood's home, will be able to see this legally.
posted by thecjm at 3:54 PM on April 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


Cosigned, phunniemee. It was the first Atwood book I read, and as of now the only one, because it terrified me so much that I've avoided her work ever since.
posted by quaking fajita at 3:55 PM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


no one in Canada, Atwood's home, will be able to see this legally.

We like it that way - it's more exciting.
posted by sneebler at 3:58 PM on April 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


When I read The Handmaid's Tale for the first time - back in the mid-nineties - I remember thinking to myself that it seemed gripping but rather dated, and it certainly was a window back onto the lunatic days of the early Reagan administration, wasn't it? I mean, I literally found it one of my least favorite of her books because it seemed like a "message book" whose moment had passed.

Ha. Very ha.
posted by Frowner at 4:03 PM on April 29, 2016 [56 favorites]


I am dubiously hopeful, that team makes me raise an eye skeptically.
posted by corb at 4:04 PM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I remember reading it for High School and loving it. It was assigned because I'd already read 1984, Animal Farm, and Brave New World. Attwood was much more terrifying.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 4:07 PM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hulu production = no one in Canada, Atwood's home, will be able to see this legally.

Canadian rights will just get sold to someone in Canada like Bell or Rogers for distribution through Crave or shomi. Assuming someone feels like paying for it. But usually someone does.
posted by GuyZero at 4:29 PM on April 29, 2016


distribution through Crave or shomi

So, no one will watch it legally.
posted by quaking fajita at 4:33 PM on April 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


For example, The Path a current Hulu original has been picked up for distribution in Canada by Showcase.
posted by GuyZero at 4:34 PM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


And the star is a Scientologist. Perfect.

Crossover episode with The Path!
posted by Huck500 at 4:34 PM on April 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Shomi and Crave are at least as popular in Canada as Hulu is in the US.
posted by GuyZero at 4:34 PM on April 29, 2016


And the star is a Scientologist. Perfect.

Babies are externs and negaters as any parent will tell you.
posted by srboisvert at 4:40 PM on April 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I read the book for the first time just a few weeks ago. Gripping. One of those, "What would I do in a situation like that?" books. To me it seemed less an unlikely dystopian fantasy and more an exploration of what had happened in Iran a few years before the book was written, tweaked for America. ("Guardians of the Faith" rang a bell, for example.)

The Fellowship (previously) seems like exactly the kind of group that might try to pull something like this off in the US.
posted by clawsoon at 4:42 PM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Are we suddenly skeptical that a Scientologist can play a character from a creepy, dehumanizing religious dystopia? I mean, all the LDS actresses would probably know to stay away, so honestly this is the best possible casting.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:43 PM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


For example, The Path a current Hulu original has been picked up for distribution in Canada by Showcase.

And City aired the Hulu season of Mindy Project on their site. And as far as I can tell, that's it. Anything from Man in the High Castle to Community to Other Space to Powers, we ain't getting it.
posted by thecjm at 4:57 PM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Shomi and Crave are at least as popular in Canada as Hulu is in the US.

Oh, I thought Hulu was doing well.

Looking forward to this, and also that MaddAdam miniseries that I think Netflix picked up?
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 5:04 PM on April 29, 2016


Am I the only Canadian that actually likes Shomi? The interface is pants but the catalogue is surprisingly deep. They have the entire run of M*A*S*H, for example, which forgives a multitude of sins.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:09 PM on April 29, 2016


I remember reading it for High School and loving it. It was assigned because I'd already read 1984, Animal Farm, and Brave New World. Attwood was much more terrifying.

The Handmaid's Tale is one of the very few dystopian novels that I've found troubling or scary, along with Riddley Walker. The majority are like 1984 or The Road, fun to read and interesting but with all the emotional impact of a wet paper towel.

Reading that Atwood approved the scripts makes me more hopeful about this.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:14 PM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


shomi and Crave are both perfectly fine and are barely a year old versus Hulu which is nearly 8 years old now. Yes, it sucks to not get the same stuff but I think there's clearly Canadian demand for anything by Atwood so I'm sure someone will pick it up. For those who didn't get to see Man In The High Castle, meh, you didn't miss much.
posted by GuyZero at 5:16 PM on April 29, 2016


The problem with the Handmaid's Tale is that she writes US christian extremism as some sort of latter-day resurrection of olde new england puritanism. It reads like she took 'The Scarlet Letter' to heart rather than Flannery O'Connor.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:16 PM on April 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


So I confess I have never read the book, even though it's kicking around here so where.

Has its dystopian-ness been surpassed by other texts (or Cruz campaign position papers), or is it still worth reading?
posted by wenestvedt at 5:22 PM on April 29, 2016


I felt that the original film version covered the story really well.

Wikipedia: "The Handmaid's Tale is a 1990 film adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name. Directed by Volker Schlöndorff, the film stars Natasha Richardson (Kate/Offred), Faye Dunaway (Serena Joy), Robert Duvall (The Commander, Fred), Aidan Quinn (Nick), and Elizabeth McGovern (Moira). The screenplay was written by Harold Pinter. The original music score was composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto."
posted by ovvl at 5:29 PM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Has its dystopian-ness been surpassed by other texts...

I think the first 'Oryx and Crake' book is great and would make a great movie, provided they changed nothing about the ending.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:48 PM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


or the main characters. Actually, I bet the movie would suck because all of the main characters are designed to make you feel queasy about yourself... and movie producers can't deal with that.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:50 PM on April 29, 2016


HBO is adapting the Oryx and Crake trilogy with Atwood as a consulting producer, who said "My agent and I had had other approaches [but ] you don’t want to give it to somebody that you don’t think can do it. I didn’t want to give it to somebody who thought they could make a film… because the canvas is too big for a film.”
posted by melissasaurus at 6:21 PM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I could only read a little bit at a time before the pervading atmosphere of despair that permeates the book started to get to me- I never really deep down understood suicidal ideation before. Powerful and terrifying as fuck but deeply unpleasant to actually read.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:30 PM on April 29, 2016


I think we've ended up in the wrong timeline. I was looking for the timeline where we live in the future with all the positive, utopian science fiction coming true. Somehow, we've ended up in the timeline where are the darkest stuff that scared the shit out of us when we read it (cautionary tales, mind you, that we were supposed to heed) has become essentially what we see on the evening news.

I wonder how much longer until The Sheep Look Up becomes a reality tv show.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:45 PM on April 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


I've never had any movie or tv show scare me as much as this book did.

I read this a few weeks after September 11, when everyone was still reeling, and when I got to the part where they talk about how the Christian fundamentalists blew up the Capitol building (I think?) and blamed it on Muslim terrorists to make room for a coup, I gasped.

I haven't been able to bring myself to re-read it, but I still remember it so well. One of the most striking things I remember is Offred's memory of how her husband was as outraged as she was at first when she lost her job, but then liked that she was dependent on him. Still makes me shudder.
posted by lunasol at 6:54 PM on April 29, 2016 [26 favorites]


Every time I'm cooking and rub the excess oil or butter into my hands, I think of Handmaid's Tale and shudder. This book (and Womack's Random Acts of Senseless Violence) are books I revisit often because of how real, tragic and terrifying they are.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:06 PM on April 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


If you have room in your reading list, quaking fajita, the Maddaddam trilogy is great stuff. Far weirder than Handmaid's Tale, if that helps.
posted by Kreiger at 7:30 PM on April 29, 2016


I first read The Handmaid's Tale in high school in the early 90s, and while the general plot outline stuck with me, it didn't make a huge impression.

Then I read it again after 9/11.

Uh. Yeah.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:47 PM on April 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


1. Current events made me want to reread Handmaid just a month or so ago, and I found it more frighteningly plausible now than when I read it in the 80s. The takeaway: I don't want it to become nonfiction.

1a. I'm interested to see how the Hulu series treats it.

2. The majority are like 1984 or The Road, fun to read and interesting but with all the emotional impact of a wet paper towel.

Dip Flash, you must have ice water in your veins. The first sentence of 1984 tells you how wrong, wrong, wrong everything is, and I think The Road could have turned Ronald Reagan into an antinuclear activist (had he been able to read it).
posted by scratch at 8:15 PM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


...but with all the emotional impact of a wet paper towel.

Confession: when Winston Smith realizes that the camera [government CCTV, installed by law in every dwelling but which he'd thought absent in the illicit old flat where he'd been carrying on illegal activities like reading and having sex] was hidden behind the same old painting that he and his lover had long admired - I'll always remember the shock I felt when I first read that 30 + years ago.
posted by Flashman at 8:41 PM on April 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


I suppose The Road isn't really a capital-D Dystopia, in that everything is irretrievably fucked, and everyone will be dead in a few years, but I feel like maybe you and I read different books, Dip Flash. I read it in one sitting in a hotel room in Vietnam by myself. That was a large, scratchy paper towel.
posted by Kreiger at 8:42 PM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I need to read this again, it's been too long, but I remember being blown away when I first read it. It and The Robber Bride are my two favorite Atwood books.

I have always found Oryx and Crake and the sequels annoying because of her penchant for cutesy puns in fake product names. I know it's satire but something about it just grates on me.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:47 PM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is great news, however the two series turn out...more money for Atwood might mean more LongPens, meaning I might get my copies of her books remotely signed. Which would be just about the best thing ever.
posted by Kreiger at 9:04 PM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm skeptical, but hopeful. I really hated the movie version from 1990. I haven't seen it since then but my memory is they turned into a goddamn love story and it was not a love story.
posted by tuesdayschild at 9:12 PM on April 29, 2016


Holy shit. This is going to be awesome. The 80s movie was a bad adaptation. This will be a much-needed improvement. Love Moss. Can't fucking wait.
posted by panama joe at 10:15 PM on April 29, 2016


So this is pretty much going to be a documentary instead of a cautionary tale this time?

Instead of an armed revolution, this time the Republic of Gilead people are simply voted in.
posted by kurumi at 11:26 PM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Somehow, we've ended up in the timeline where are the darkest stuff that scared the shit out of us when we read it (cautionary tales, mind you, that we were supposed to heed) has become essentially what we see on the evening news.

I want to challenge this. I recognise the real menace and horror that exists in modern society and politics, but I don't find the outlook any less mixed than when The Handmaid's Tale was published. Something I have remarked on previously is (from my perspective as an interested observer) an increasing prevalence of apocalyticism among both US liberals and conservatives. Both sides of the divide appear to contain elements who are increasingly convinced that the other is preparing itself for the final push that will eliminate all decency from American society.

Obviously the appalling abuses of democratic processes that the GOP has engaged in in recent years are a major contributor to this impression among liberals, but perhaps they are themselves (in part) a product of this polarisation of despair.

In any case I find it an interesting phenomenon which I would like to understand more about.
posted by howfar at 11:36 PM on April 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


Honestly, howfar, that's something I've given a decent amount of thought to recently, and it leads me to another science fiction classic, Make Room, Make Room. At the end of the novel (sorry for spoilers for a book from the sixties) the priest who has been declaring that the end of the world will come at New Years, 2000 is horrified to find that there is no apocalypse, and his response is "you mean we have to keep living like this?" It's one of the most shocking things I've ever read.

I think, to some extent, that's the beauty to many people of an apocalypse, biblical, environmental, zombie, or otherwise. There's the built in chunk of most organized religions that has the idea that good times will come again, but only after prolonged suffering, and a lot of people seem to be thinking that either we're in the bad times now, or that they're on the way. For some, because of the promise of better times, the apocalypse isn't soemthing to be feared, because they truly feel that they're part of the chosen who will be protected.

Does this apply to everyone? No, not by any means. Then again, think about the fad of zombies. The death of almost everyone a person knows and loves, hates, or has to put up with. Sudden, total freedom. The constant strain in zombie fiction that, essentially, the worst thing is other people, not zombies.

Either because of the immediacy of information (net, 24news, etc) or something else, a lot of people are afraid the world is falling to shit, and of those people, there are certainly enough that are talking about/thinking about the end times to make it a general undercurrent. And again, there's the even worse thing: that this is, in fact, not the end times, this is just how we live now, and going forward, it's going to become an increasingly violent and vicious fight to maintain even this precarious foothold, because at some point, even that is going away.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:48 AM on April 30, 2016 [13 favorites]


If anyone wonders what a fundamentalist-run dystopia would look like, just look at conservative Christian schools & colleges and their rules (or "honor codes"). What they do and what rules they impose on their captive population is a great indicator of their character and what they would do if they had complete power. BYU treating rape victims as honor code scofflaws first, and victims a very distant second, is a good example.

This is probably one reason the book had such a huge impact on me. I read it in my early twenties, when the memories of my childhood Christian school was still fresh. The rules were petty, arbitrary, geared towards strictly enforcing gender norms and stifling any thought contradictory towards fundamentalist doctrine. Even though Atwood didn't get American fundie culture down perfectly, she was close enough to be terrifying.
posted by honestcoyote at 4:05 AM on April 30, 2016 [14 favorites]


> "... is it still worth reading?"

Yes. It is brilliant.
posted by kyrademon at 4:30 AM on April 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've always loved this book, and deliberately started a reread while waiting at the doctor's office for my IUD insertion appointment. As an early 30s American woman, it wasn't long ago that none of my 20-something friends could even get a doctor to prescribe an IUD to them because something something what if you want kids later and it makes you infertile and we know what's best for you. The book is horrifying to me, and more horrifying for the fact that so many aspects from it are not so far removed from the reality a lot of us experience firsthand. It's a real frog-in-a-pot-of-boiling-water story, and every once in a while I feel a rising sense of panic when I look around and listen to political discussions held entirely in earnest among men who think they know what's best for me. I am thrilled to see this being made into a series because it is a great book and I do love Elizabeth Moss, but also hope it throws it into a greater spotlight to illuminate the utter offensiveness of some peoples' theories on controlling the reproductive rights of women.
posted by olinerd at 5:14 AM on April 30, 2016 [9 favorites]


I reread The Handmaid's Tale and a bunch of other dystopian novels a few months ago as part of a winter dystopian reread fest. I hadn't read Atwood's book since the early 1990s and it turned out to have held up very well. As others have noted, in some ways it fits our current moment as well or better than it did the time it was written, though I remember feeling that same connection the first time I read it also, which is a measure of the quality of Atwood's writing.

The Handmaid's Tale has the depth to support a well-done miniseries and deserves the resources and attention of a serious production. I hope that they hold to the book's core, rather than turning it into a weaksauce soap opera. I don't know if the word was much in use at the time the novel was written, but it certainly portrays complex intersectionality, which deserves to be kept as an integral part of the piece.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:49 AM on April 30, 2016


My 15-year-old daughter chose The Handmaid's Tale as her Honors English "deep research" project. She could have chosen something lighter, something humorous, but she actively chose this book. She asked me my opinion on it and I told her truthfully that it was the scariest thing I've ever read in my life.

She did an amazing job with the project (got the highest grade in the class *parent brag*) and while she fully understood how terrifying it was, she read more hope into the ending than I ever did. I think that's a good thing.

It turned my baby feminist into a full-fledged feminist who is now going to start a women's issues club at school. I couldn't be prouder.
posted by cooker girl at 6:05 AM on April 30, 2016 [44 favorites]


And again, there's the even worse thing: that this is, in fact, not the end times, this is just how we live now, and going forward, it's going to become an increasingly violent and vicious fight to maintain even this precarious foothold, because at some point, even that is going away.

There's a Slacktivist post that made a similar point about apocalyptic works: that, if the future is a boot stamping on a human face forever, an apocalypse means even that won't last forever.

What comes afterwards may be worse, of course. Much worse. And even if it isn't, to quote the Commander, better doesn't mean better for everyone.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 3:08 PM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


better doesn't mean better for everyone.

I think that one of the strongest things feeding people with end times mania is an immense amount of hubris. The religious fundies (like the hardline conservatives who support Israel at all costs because that's where everything will kick off) believe that they're the chosen people, so they will certainly be in the better for some camp. The survivalist hoarders believe that through their preparations and gun hoards, they'll survive to create their new utopia. People think, well, yeah, things will be bad, but they're fantasizing bring some rugged lone survivor or charismatic leader. It would almost be comical if people like that weren't trying to, y'know, run for president (Ted Cruz, anyone?)
posted by Ghidorah at 5:31 PM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]




Is anyone else a little worried that *the* role Moss gets, over and over, is woman-having-to-fight-sexism?

OMG SO GUTTED SHE'S A SCIENTOLOGIST
posted by gusandrews at 12:56 PM on May 1, 2016


Is anyone else a little worried that *the* role Moss gets, over and over, is woman-having-to-fight-sexism?


That's the role all women get IRL.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:07 PM on May 1, 2016 [11 favorites]




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