12 Holy Facts About “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Hulu’s hit show, The Handmaid’s Tale has become a favorite among viewers, though some find the dark source material (and if you’ve read the book, you know what you’re in for) hits a little too close to home these days.

If you’re able to put those comparisons aside and enjoy the show – or you’re watching it like a how-to manual or a documentary from the near future – here are 12 behind-the-scenes facts you’re going to love.

12. There are a few reasons the Handmaids wear red.

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The book’s author, Margaret Atwood, says the red is to symbolize the blood of parturition and Mary Magdalene.

In a more practical way, it also makes the Handmaids easy to spot should they try to flee.

11. The book has been adapted before.

The 1990 film starred Natasha Richardson and got panned by critics. If you’ve never heard of it before now, you’re not alone – it only grossed $5 million worldwide.

10. Margaret Atwood had a cameo in the show.

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She played the aunt who slapped Offred in the very first episode.

Cathartic, maybe?

9. In the book, the Waterfords are much older.

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Atwood describes Fred and Serena as an elderly couple with gray hair and arthritis, but in the show, they’re much younger.

Showrunner Bruce Miller said he made the call because he wanted there to be “direct competition” between Serena and Offred.

8. They had to create hundreds of custom labels for the grocery store.

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Women in Gilead aren’t allowed to learn how to read, so all of the labels had to be visual in order for them to accomplish shopping.

Production designer Julie Berghoff says that made it one of the most challenging sets to create.

7. Elisabeth Moss doesn’t wear makeup.

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Showrunner Bruce Miller made the decision because he thought it removed all barriers between her face and emotions and the audience.

He wanted every twitch and twinge of her brilliant work to be visible.

6. The drama made television history.

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In 2017, it became the first streaming show to win an Emmy for Outstanding Drama.

5. Atwood didn’t set the book in her native Canada for a reason.

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She said that even though she was more familiar with Canada, she chose to set the story in the States because she felt Canada was too diverse to ever recruit enough people to such an extreme ideology.

It goes without saying, then, that she had no such qualms about the U.S.

4. The book doesn’t contain any people of color.

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In the novel, all of the people of color had been relocated to “National Homelands,” making the cast almost entirely white.

The show’s producers decided they weren’t comfortable filming a show without people of color, so chose to ignore that piece of the worldbuilding.

3. We never know Offred’s real name in the book.

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The show reveals her name, June, in the very first episode.

As a result, the audience can feel a bit more connected to the “real” her instead of being kept at a very intentional distance in the novel.

2. Actress Amanda Brugel wrote her college essay on the book.

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She even received a college scholarship based on her essay, and even went on to write her thesis on the book.

It almost seems as if she was born to play the part.

1. The sets are designed around the costumes.

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Production designer Julie Berghoff said all of her inspiration comes from the show’s deliberate costuming.

Every room is designed to compliment the different characters and their distinct outfits.

There you have it, folks – I definitely didn’t know some of those things before now.

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