June 5, 2019
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – With its chilling portrait of a patriarchal dictatorship where women are routinely raped, mutilated and forcibly separated from their children, “The Handmaid’s Tale” has sometimes proved tough to stomach.
But Bruce Miller, creator and executive producer of the television series based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, says he is “not in the business of inventing cruelties.”
“I don’t want the show to be torture to watch. It is entertainment and you want people to be compelled by it. You don’t want it to be horrible medicine,” Miller said.
Season three of the Emmy Award-winning series arrives on streaming service Hulu on Wednesday with its portrait of life in the fictional U.S. state of Gilead as seemingly prescient as ever.
Handmaid June (played by Elisabeth Moss), having turned down a rare the chance to escape Gilead with her newborn, decides to remain to fight back against a society where women are banned from reading and writing and forced into servitude.
It follows a second season last year that contained scenes of beatings, hangings and rape that many viewers found too grim.
“I’m not interested in putting the audience through torture. I try to only show the things that we need to see to understand where June is emotionally and mentally,” said Miller. “What I’m trying to do is tell the story of June’s survival and victory and it’s a long, slow slog.”
Season three arrives as women in the United States, sometimes wearing the distinctive red gowns and white bonnets seen in the TV series, are protesting laws in 11 U.S. states that severely restrict abortion.
Last season coincided with a crackdown on illegal immigration at the U.S. border with Mexico in which parents and their children were separated.
Although the theme of season three is rebellion, Miller says there is no quick fix.
“We want to show what a hero really looks like – someone who is stubborn. They get knocked down; they get bruised, and they pick themselves up and try again,” Miller said.
Miller said any direct parallels between the television series and current world events are unintentional, although Atwood has said that all the events in her book were drawn from history.
“We try to come up with what could happen in Gilead … (But) if you’re going to make television that is tied to the real world, it’s going to be as disquieting as the political turmoil the world seem to be going through right now,” he said.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)