‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Margaret Atwood discusses a possible season 2

Nothing that has not happened in society was included, and what happened to Ofglen has happened in modern society. Is that exciting for you? You don’t even want to be the person heroically defending them. And then people got tired. It’s very upsetting when Janine has the baby and it gets taken away from her. “Did I will this into being? My other belief is that people who say they want to do extreme things will do them if they get the chance. It’s visually alluring. Like what happens to Ofglen (played in the series by Alexis Bledel)? Yes, episode 3 is quite rough. So in a hierarchical situation like that, women at the top are doing better than men at the bottom but not as well as men at the top. Did you collaborate much with showrunner Bruce Miller? It’s not usually what happens to you at this age. Because then you will become one of those attacked. When you’re a certain age, you think your mum is old-fashioned. And that is like a real totalitarianism. And it has not stopped since that moment. I wanted it to be a totalitarianism where everyone is being treated badly but in different ways, except for those at the top. Hitler and his book [Mein Kampf], which was disregarded at first, no one paid any attention to it. It’s unsafe to defend people against that behavior. I had followed the story of Mr. What do you think about the series’ relevancy and the renewed interest in your 32-year-old novel? We had women sitting in the Texas legislature [dressed in red Handmaid’s dresses] surrounded by men with guns which is just like a still right out of the television series. In your New York Times piece, you talk about the scene where you have a cameo, where the women are all ganging up on Janine for being a victim in a gang rape, forcing her to admit the rape was her fault. But there were three backstories to writing the book. What do you chalk that up to? During the witchcraft trials, the safest place to be is among the accusers. When there is a mob, or any sort of group ganging up, like the coffee shop scene which is part of that, the safest place is always the middle of the mob. We sat down with Atwood, 77, to discuss the eerie relevance of her work today and what she thinks of the   latest adaptation of her novel. The Handmaid’s Tale has already been through the Hollywood system. So what do you think of all this happening to you right now, with your book and the renewed notoriety? Now people have more power to do those things and they are doing them. It’s not just something that happens to people over there. Are there other scenes that stand out to you? The thing looks gorgeous. How involved were you in the series? He explores some of the edges of things in his answers, written by me. Now in the novel, I never pictured overhead shots. Show Full Article So what you’ve seen so far in the first series…
It’s very good. Let me just say that. (That is, when they are not banning it.) And now, of course, it’s a new drama series which premiered on Hulu on Wednesday. Are there scenes that are upsetting to you? But Bruce Miller followed the rules. Sometimes those aren’t even the true feelings of the person before that moment. Those people would disappear, not only from your life but from the record. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It feels like this series was put into production the day after the election, which, of course, it wasn’t — they were already well into it. That is what causes mob behavior — it’s safer in the mob. Like the scene in the café, when Offred (Elisabeth Moss) before she becomes a handmaid, stops in to get a coffee with her friend Moira (Samira Wiley), only to be called a slut by the man working the register. The series expands well beyond your novel. I think it will be more involving in the second season because we will be in uncharted territories so more invention will have to take place. 9. Usually, you are sitting in the rocking chair and people are saying, “Fine achievement, fine lifetime achievement,” and that’s kind of it. Things go in waves. Let’s do that, it’s the acceptable thing to do. It was witchcraft and demonology language. But it wasn’t a big hit. We talked a lot. Normalizing is a big thing with this series. And others felt they had achieved a certain number of things and it was other people’s turn. And it would bubble up from time to time. That is what Orwell is channeling in 1984. Canadian author Margaret Atwood started writing The Handmaid’s Tale in West Berlin in 1984, when the wall was still up and the East German Air Force would release sonic booms, reminding her of their proximity, every Sunday. It’s safer to be among those doing the attacking. Second wave feminism happened in the ’60s and into the ’70s. And my interest in writing a dystopia. It’s a fun way to be 77. Until, of course, we change our minds as to who the mob is. Poor Janine [played by Orange Is the New Black‘s Madeline Brewer]. Her mom was a ’70s feminist and Offred thinks she is quaint, going on all these marches, wearing overalls. RELATED: Elisabeth Moss on the Relevance of Handmaid’s Tale: ‘I Wish It Was Sci-Fi’
You had posters from the Women’s March with the lines “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again.”
Yes, we had those. Yes, it is. It reminds me of the rise in anti-Semitic and racist talk on the rise here now. They might not have been their feelings at all before then, but this is what we have to do. The corollary of that is when the Handmaids are urged on to basically kill a man. [Laughs]   I do feel like. It was a movie back in 1990 that starred Natasha Richardson as Offred. What makes your novel, and now the television series, so terrifying, goes back to your initial decision to base every action by this totalitarian government on some antecedent in history, whether it’s the Bible story of Jacob and his two wives and their handmaidens who were there solely to provide his barren wives children or that heavy pollution has led to failing fertility rates. That made me cry. You read about Joe Stalin’s purges and people just disappear. But when he got the power, he did the things he said he was going to do. They never would have killed a man before but this is what you do now. Every country has a foundational paradigm and that’s one of the foundational paradigms of the United States, the other being the 18th century Enlightenment. Really shocking was what happened to Ofglen, which I don’t want to spoil. That’s how Salem worked. And we are brought into the process, via the show’s flashbacks, of how this somewhat free society, became so dogmatic, so quickly. So it’s very interesting to me and I’m glad it’s so interesting to many other younger people. Were there images you wanted to see visualized in a certain way? They become not only socially acceptable feelings, but socially demanded feelings. And that’s more or less our world. That will be interesting but I can’t predict what we will do. And it’s safe to do that; it’s unsafe not to do it. And it ought to be because this is the world they are increasingly living in. So the book was written at that time of “mum is quaint.” And then I think people move into other phases. It’s like the old Busby Berkeley musicals, or Esther Williams, where people are making floral pattern scenes. When you were writing this back in 1984 in West Berlin, what prompted that thinking? An obsession with that regime’s totalitarianism, coupled with others behind the Iron Curtain, prompted her to write her most famous novel, which is often required reading in American high schools. It’s generational. The other thread was my teenage love of dystopians and utopians and sci-fi. You don’t want to be ganged up on. The third thing was when I was reading in the papers about totalitarianism throughout the 20th century, and my belief that it will never happen here is never true. The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale are available on Hulu now, with new episodes being added to the streaming service each Wednesday. We can go behind the scenes and follow characters we can’t follow in the book because she can not know what happens to them. On a note of hope, America is very diverse and has a lot of energy and I think people have been awakened by these events and they have become motivated in a way that they weren’t before. They were gone. Well, I had been cutting things out of newspapers for a while. They did start it well ahead of the election and then as the election progressed and more things got said… but I have to say that things got said in previous elections that fit the same patterns. The photography, the saturation of color — it is really quite gorgeous. It’s bang, right between the eyes. Some people actually thought she had demonic powers, which if she had had them, maybe she should have used them. Offred (before she becomes Offred) is like that in the book. And then you wouldn’t mention them. She really had a rough road in this series but she is so good. MARGARET ATWOOD: I need to share this with you: I rigged the election. It has a style that is very lush and seductive and therefore all the more chilling because it looks so beautiful and normal. So The Handmaid’s Tale has come up in previous elections but it really came up again on Nov. That to me is the most terrifying part of it. But with the overhead shots, you can get this patterning. So you’ve got 17th-century puritan theocracy and 18th century Enlightenment sort of superimposed upon it, but the original stuff never really went away. One was 17th-century puritan culture and literature and theology, which I studied long ago at the beginning of the ’60s. Such as the wise Republicans who said there was real rape and unreal rape and you knew if it was unreal rape because if you got raped, you didn’t get pregnant because we were told a woman’s body has a way of shutting down. The most recent one being the kinds of language applied to Hillary Clinton during the election, which was straight out of the 17th century. Most of the ones I had read had been from a male point of view. Is this my fault that we have this now?” It is very peculiar. We did a special edition of the audio book, which concludes with a Q&A session with the professor.