10 Things You Never Knew About The Handmaid's Tale

Image: Instagram: @handmaidsonhulu

Well, that went fast. But also, like, painfully, emotionally draining-ly slow. After airing its first episode on June 6, Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale is almost over. In anticipation of Thursday’s finale, let us revel in some Gilead gossip. Praise be.

Serena Joy gave birth to her first child while Season 3 was being filmed

Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski, who plays Serena Joy, was pregnant with her first child and returned to work just seven weeks after giving birth. "Everyone was pretty well into the fifth episode when I got back, so we were playing catch-up on the Serena Joy scenes that we hadn’t done yet”, she said.

Joseph Fiennes had a brutal scene removed from the show

Joseph Fiennes, who plays the cowardly Commander Fred Waterford in the series, recently revealed that he fought hard to have a brutal scene removed from the final cut of an episode in Season 2. The scene saw Fred rape his wife, Serena, during a trip to Washington. "It just felt like an idea to push the misogyny, and I felt it was all already there. It didn't need to be so brutally illustrated”, he said.

Offred’s ear tag number is a subtle nod to Margaret Atwood’s book

In the series, each handmaid is implanted with an ear tag bearing their ID number—not dissimilar to cattle at a farm. Honestly, can this show get any bleaker? Anyway, Offred’s identification digits are 1985, which is the year that Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, was first published. 

Gilead is actually segregated

Speaking of Atwood’s novel, those who have read it will note how differently race is depicted in the series. Whilst there are black handmaids in the show, they are segregated and sent to a place called the national homelands in Atwood’s book. Though Moira (who is played by Samira Wiley) appears in the novel, she is described as a white woman.

The series is filmed in Canada 

The set of Gilead is actually in Toronto, which is ironic as Canada is the free nation that handmaids flee to in the series. If you’re looking to embark on the dystopian holiday of your dreams, you can actually visit most of the filming spots in and around Toronto—like the Church of St. Aidan, which is used as the Red Centre in the series. Just don’t send me any postcards.

Margaret Atwood had a cameo in episode one

To kick off the first ever episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood, who serves as a consulting producer on the show, played the role of an aunt who slapped Offred across the face for stepping out of line.

The Commander’s artworks mimic those in the Museum of Fine Arts

If ever there was an instance of life imitating art, this is it. Fans of the series often praise the incredible attention to detail the writers have when it comes to set and prop design, and the wall décor is no exception. “All the paintings on the walls of the Commander’s house are copies of pictures from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, because the idea was that they looted them and put them in their houses, like the Nazis did,” explains the series creator, Bruce Miller.

Elizabeth Moss is an executive producer on the show

Honestly, is there anything June can’t do? After often stepping in with advice and insight in season 1, Moss officially became an executive producer for seasons 2 and 3 of the show. She says the new role has made her a stronger person, and that “having to go up against people, having to argue, has definitely brought out a bit of a strength in me that I didn’t know that I had.”

Oprah does a voice-over in the show

Oprah might just have the most recognisable voice in showbiz, so it’s hard to miss her radio cameos in both Season 2 and 3 of the show. Words to look out for? "This is Radio Free America, broadcasting from somewhere in the Great White North…”

Season 4 has just been confirmed

It’s hard to find “good” news to report when you’re writing about a show as daunting as The Handmaid’s Tale, but blessed is this fruit! On the 8th of August, Hulu announced they have signed on for a Season 4. Watch this space.

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