The Handmaid’s Tale series creator Bruce Miller says he is as horrified as the rest of us, to watch the dramatised events of dystopian Gilead so closely mirror reality.
“It’s heartbreaking when you come up with the worst thing you can imagine and then someone does it. We are often unfortunately relevant. I would love our show to be irrelevant.”
Miller, executive producer and showrunner of the dystopian phenomenon, reflects upon the eerie foresight shown by himself and the team of writers, in an extended interview with SBS The Handmaid’s Tale companion podcast, Eyes on Gilead.
“It’s heartbreaking when you come up with the worst thing you can imagine and then someone does it."
In two episodes of this season, events within The Handmaid’s Tale have resembled contemporaneous political events in the United States. First there was the diplomatic tension with Canada and then there was the shocking parallel between June’s brief reunion with Hannah, and the forced separation of Mexican migrants and their children at the US border.
“It’s a very strange feeling when things that you shoot, you see a version of that on the news," Miller says. "It’s funny because we don’t have any crystal ball. We’re news junkie people who are just extrapolating out. That’s the problem, since were trying to stick in a world of possibility and sadly sometimes we land in a world of reality. Mostly, it’s sickening.”
Elsewhere in the exclusive interview with the Eyes on Gilead team, Miller explains how he and the show's writers plan out the arc of every series. With the season two finale rapidly approaching, Miller says he "started thinking about season two right about halfway through writing season one. You have to in order to build the finale of the one season. You don’t want to write yourself into a corner because then you’re mad at yourself!"
He also speaks about the responsibility of being a male showrunner of such a female-centric show: "[Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale] was such a favourite book of mine and the point of view was why. I loved getting to know the world of GIlead through June's eyes. In some ways the thing that attracted me to the book was Offred and her voice. But I'm a guy and I don't walk through the world as a woman so you have to surround yourself with people who do, because there are just some things you don't know. Our writing staff is mostly women. Our directors, more than half of them are women. Our pilot director was Reed Morano, so we have been really lucky in that we have very smart, stubborn, outspoken women. That's what you want. You want people who are going to have very strong opinions."
Miller's wide-ranging interview also deals with how he and the Handmaid's team have decided to divert from the book's handling of race, how the writers' room deals with disagreement, and, not to overstate it, we think we might have landed of scoop about the development of Serena's character, as we head to series 3.
The series 2 finale of The Handmaid's Tale will premiere at SBS On Demand at 5pm Thursday 12 July and on SBS Australia at 8.30pm. The episode will be repeated on SBS VICELAND, Friday 13 July at 8.30pm
New episodes of Eyes On Gilead will be available to download as soon as the latest episode of the TV show has started streaming at SBS On Demand.