Differences between handmaids tale book and show

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differences between handmaids tale book and show

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This post contains spoilers about The Handmaid's Tale season one. Cellphones and Uber exist on the show. Serena Joy and the Commander are much younger on the show. Serena Joy is responsible for coming up with Gilead, maybe. Through flashbacks in episode six, we learn that she was forced to give way to the Commander to take credit for the creation of Gilead. There's a salvaging scene early on.
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Published 16.12.2018

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27 major changes 'The Handmaid's Tale' show made from the original dystopian book

Spoilers follow, of course. The show: Also set in what appears to be Cambridge, but in the present day or a time very close to it. In one scene, Offred makes a reference to Uber. The show: At the end of the first episode, Offred reveals her secret, forbidden name via inner monologue, and it is indeed June. The book: Gilead is overtly racist as well as sexist.

But Atwood wrote the book on a typewriter in ; much has changed since then, both technologically and socially. And so the show has updated itself to reflect the current times. There are more non-white and gay characters. And everyone has a smartphone. Other changes are more logistic or cinematic in nature: Serena Joy is younger than she is in the book, and, controversially, Offred reveals her real name. When handmaids move to a new house, they take on the names of their masters.

Even if the show is taking a few liberties with our favourite book. To say that the first two hours were heart-wrenching would be an understatement. Like, holy heck. Even if it looks as though her only friend, Ofglen Alexis Bledel , is gone for good. In it, she mentions a bunch of names that the women would whisper to each other, late at night when they were supposed to be sleeping. Offred saw her once, in an instructional video they showed at the Red Centre, and by the time we meet her in the book her mom is presumed dead. Speaking of missing characters, where is Cora?

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Starring Elizabeth Moss , Samira Wiley , and Alexis Bledel , the show takes audiences into a harrowing world that feels almost too close to home. Showrunner and executive producer Bruce Miller took the lead on adapting Atwood's novel , and has made some significant changes along the way. Miller went on to explain why he thought Offred needed another name. In the book, a newscaster refers to the "resettlement of the Children of Ham" in the Dakotas. This phrase recalls r acist ideologies from the 19th century, which claimed that black people were descendants from the biblical figure Ham, who was cursed and forced into servitude.

With my first reading, for whatever reason, I had a very obscure picture of the world Atwood was writing about. But, after watching the series, I was able to really picture the world of Gilead, and it made me want to understand it better. So I decided to revisit the book, and I re-read it while watching the show. It completely changed my opinion of the novel, and now I love a book that I once hated. Though both are important and relevant , they have different missions and different lessons.


  1. Sheila A. says:

    Creator Bruce Miller and the series's writers created a world distinctly inspired by Trump's America, but of course its source material, Margaret Atwood's seminal novel of the same name, was born from another conservative presidency that regularly blurred the lines between church and state: that of Ronald Reagan, a former actor turned politician.

  2. Freddie C. says:

    The Handmaid's Tale: Differences Between the Show and Book | Time

  3. Renán A. says:

    Hulu's adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale has gone well beyond Margaret Atwood's source material, but what happens to June at the end of the book?

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