So what happens when you pick up where the book left off?
“This is a more common experience for me in television writing, approaching something without source material,” showrunner Bruce Miller said. “It was a bit more comfortable than adapting one of the world’s greatest pieces of literature, which has a smidge of pressure attached to it.”
Below are highlights from a conversation with Miller.
On how to pick up the TV show after the novel ended:
The way we approached it was try to make it still feel like the world Margaret Atwood created. A lot of times you adapt a classic and the author is unfortunately long gone, and Margaret’s very much with us, so we got to pick her brain for what her thinking behind the story was. But the biggest thing, was she was so encouraging with coming up with new stuff. When the book ends, you’re furious. So you get this great benefit of saying: “Oh, I get to come up with what happens next.”
Margaret was just as excited - even though she made the decision to infuriate everybody. She made us feel very free in terms of what we could do.
In the first season she got all the cuts, all the scripts, all the outlines. I talked to her about a million details, big and small. She came to the writers’ room, and at the beginning of Season 2, she came to the writers’ room and also has every script and every outline.
Shooting Season 2 amid Hollywood’s sexual misconduct revelations:
It caused a lot of discussions that were kind of embarrassing, and honest and difficult. When you’re in a position like I am, you feel ashamed things are happening all around you that you never were aware of, which just makes you feel like a dope and a bad boss and a bad friend. The first thing you do is turn to your friends and colleagues and say, “Is this is how things work here? Is this how things were back in your career?”
Our show’s a bit of an outlier because there was such a huge push from (us), and me, to hire women at every single level. The show has such a female-centred voice in the main character. Through the first season you recognise the difference between a female director’s eye and a male director’s eye, because we had all female directors.
The criticism that Season 1 didn’t directly address race:
In (the book) it was an all-white society. And we didn’t want (the show) to not look like the society that people have around them today, because anything that can make it not your world, it can make it feel not as scary. It is important to represent people of colour and follow these people’s stories, and how much of a force race and racism was in their journey.
How to best watch this emotionally taxing series:
My advice is, one at a time. We did not write a show to be binged. Not that you can’t, but people who say that they binged it - I think you need a lot of scotch in a baby bottle and a blanket for a while.