Out of all of Hulu’s original shows, The Handmaid’s Tale may be the most HBO-like for its mature themes. Harrowing events in a repressive, dystopian alternate history force its female characters into some pretty desperate circumstances, and the dark subject matter can get delicate — which is why, when the clothes come off, it’s not always comfortable to watch.
But the cast enjoy full power over which of their in-the-buff takes actually make it to the final cut, and can kill any footage they find distasteful. It’s an uncommon measure of control, but it’s one that Elisabeth Moss (Offred) says she hopes will set a standard for other productions to follow.
“I have 100 percent approval over all the footage, and I can literally say, 'You cannot use that scene,’” Moss told The Hollywood Reporter, explaining that the show’s “incredibly collaborative atmosphere” is a refreshing rarity that other productions could learn from.
“I have been in television for a while, and it's not like this usually, so I am very, very lucky. There's no hierarchy, there's no ego,” she said, before later adding, “Everyone should have it.”
Now in its second season and already renewed for a third, The Handmaid’s Tale racked up eight Emmys in its debut season, including an Outstanding Lead Actress statue for Moss, as well as an Outstanding Supporting Actress award for Ann Dowd (who plays super-stern enforcer Aunt Lydia).
Moss said having power over how one’s body is portrayed in the service of art allows her to sit back and relish those takes that actually do make it onto the screen. Later on in the current season’s 13-episode run, there’s an especially grim scene that, Moss said, she loved screening with a test audience — and she can’t wait for fans to watch when the episode hits the service this summer.
“There was a general kind of outcry and people squirming, and I was literally sitting there like the devil [laughing],” she said of the test screening. “We were proud of it, so I wanted to hear the screams.”
You can catch all of Season 1 of The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as get caught up on new Season 2 episodes each week, at Hulu.