Orange Is the New Black star Samira Wiley is joining the cast of Hulu’s upcoming adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s classic novel. The new, much-anticipated Hulu interpretation of The Handmaid’s Tale is expected to premiere on Hulu in 2017, and according to recent reports, Samira Wiley is going to be a key part of both the cast and story arc.
As Jezebel reports, Samira Wiley’s Handmaid’s Tale performance was announced on July 25, and it’s already got fans of Wiley, Orange Is the New Black, and The Handmaid’s Tale incredibly excited for things to come.
Samira Wiley confirmed her new role on Twitter, and her fans immediately went nuts about her participation in the dystopian story of a world where conservative Christianity runs amok, separation of church and state is non-existent, and women are relegated to nothing more than breeding machines, as the Bible commands them to be.
The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in the fictional country of Gilead, a society that comes into being after a series of destructive natural disasters and replaces the United States. In Gilead, women have no human rights, no basic personhood, and no value above and beyond being the wives and breeding slaves of their husbands and male overlords. Because of the destruction of the environment in The Handmaid’s Tale, women are often rendered infertile, and women capable of reproduction are forced to produce babies. They have no value above their ability to reproduce and are treated thusly.
As in the Biblical tale of Rachel and her handmaid Bilhah (in which Rachel’s husband, Jacob, impregnates Bilhah due to Rachel’s barrenness), in Gilead of The Handmaid’s Tale, handmaids are brought into the households of married couples with infertile wives in order to be impregnated. After the birth, the handmaids are discarded, and the resulting child is raised by the married couple as if it were brought forth by a physical union between the pair.
The star of The Handmaids’s Tale (both the novel and new Hulu adaptation) is Offred (read “Of Fred”), portrayed by Elizabeth Moss. Offred is a fertile female in an increasingly infertile world. She is given to a couple to bear children by the husband, and The Handmaid’s Tale is her story. The book and Hulu adaptation tell the tale of Offred, who remembers a time before reproductive enslavement, before Gilead, when she was a real mother to a daughter of her own who was taken away by the new religious fundamentalist government she finds herself subjugated and enslaved by.
Samira Wiley also has a pivotal, central role in the new adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Her role is that of Offred’s best friend in the world before Gilead, Moira. Her friend also engages in “handmaiden training” with Offred, but the women end up moving forward along drastically different paths in the new society.
In fact, Moira’s role in The Handmaid’s Tale is a pivotal one both before and after the rise of Gilead, and it illustrates a different possible path in Offred’s new world than she is led to believe exists.
If you haven’t read the novel The Handmaid’s Tale, you should definitely give it a spin before the release of the new Hulu adaptation of the book. Doing so will allow you to appreciate the complexity of Samira Wiley’s character.
Another exciting tidbit about the Handmaid’s Tale remake is that Margaret Atwood will have a role in the production of the upcoming 10-part adaptation. Atwood, now 76-years-old, reports Biography, is the author of The Handmaid’s Tale as well as an array of other critically-acclaimed novels and poems. She will also be a consulting producer for the series.
The announcement that Samira Wiley will be joining the cast of The Handmaid’s Tale has generated a whole new level of excitement among fans of the book and Orange Is the New Black fans alike.
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