The second season of The Handmaid’s Tale has just garnered nine Emmy nominations for its unapologetically raw, close-to-home take on topics like female submission and family separation. Among them is Best Drama Series, a category it won last year.
And with its Season 2 finale this week ending in a shock decision by June (Elisabeth Moss) to remain in Gilead, creator and showrunner Bruce Miller says we can expect to see the oppressive tide turn in Season 3.
“I think seeing June’s face at the end of the finale, she’s ready for a fight,” Miller said, “so I think that’s where we’re going. June is not being captured and dragged back not Gilead, she’s choosing to go back with a mission to hopefully find a way to get her daughter Hannah back, but also to f**k things up in Gilead.”
The show eerily echoes some current political events–for example the recent separation of immigrant families at the border, and female reproductive rights with the threat against Roe Vs Wade–so does creator Bruce Miller have a crystal ball? How does the show remain so unremittingly relevant?
“We have a magic television that sees two years into the future,” Miller joked, before adding seriously, “we’re a news junkie group, from the writers to the actors and the producers and we think about, ‘OK well, what’s the extrapolation of the things that are happening in our world? If you had a terrible totalitarian theocracy that was misogynistic and cruel, and you stretch it out in that direction?’ And unfortunately, some of those things are things that end up happening.”
For Miller, the coming to fruition of these imaginings has not simply been proof that he was on the right track with the show, but a source of much personal discomfort. “Mostly you just feel sad and ashamed to be in any small way part of that governing structure, just being an American citizen,” he said. “When it’s your job to come up with the worst things that can happen to somebody and then they start happening, you don’t feel good, you feel terrible.”
“It’s astounding to me, I think I’m still in shock as to how accidentally aligned we always seem to be with current politics,” Yvonne Strahovski said, speaking after receiving her Supporting Actress nom for the show–a first for her. “It’s such a beautiful example of art imitating life, and the true power of art and what we do and how it really sits deeply with people and can move the needle in a lot of ways.”
Strahovski noted that the show had been invoked during many political protests of late, forming a constructive reference point in society. “It’s quite rare that entertainment can really play a part in moving the needle in real life and I really do feel that we play a small part in that,” she said. “When you see evidence of the costumes being used at real-life protests, and all these references to the show and the original book, it’s pretty amazing that art can have such power.”
Joseph Fiennes also just received his first Emmy nom (Best Supporting) an experience he said left him feeling, “pretty dumbstruck and quietly extremely elated”. He too has reeled from the parallels between the horror of the show and current events.
“No one could have guessed, especially with the recent border issues, just how terrifyingly real the show is,” he said. “These themes that you see in our show are happening all across the world, have happened, are happening.”
The Time’s Up movement has dovetailed too, with the Handmaid’s stories of female oppression. “To be involved in a show where we have the huge movement of Time’s Up and just looking at the political administration’s taking away certain rights,” Fiennes added, “you begin to see just how real and vivid and present the themes are.”