15. In the book, Fred and Serena are much older.
The show decided to cast younger actors instead, according to Executive Producer Bruce Miller, in order to put Offred and Serena in “direct competition” with each other.
14. Serena and Fred are also thieves.
In the show, Serena and Fred’s house is covered in artwork, which, was stolen. Julie Berghoff, the production designer, said that it was specifically done.
“We pretended like they went into the Boston Museum of Modern Art and stole all their favorite paintings. Serena Joy is a watercolorist, and she loves nature, so she picked Monets.”
13. The grocery store was the hardest set to create.
According to Berghoff, the grocery store was particularly hard and tedious for several reasons. Women are not allowed to read in Gilead, so the production team had to label food and signs with only graphic images–which, took a lot of time. The graphics team apparently had to create hundreds of labels to put all over the store–which, gives the set a very traumatic feel.
12. Offred’s name is June in the show, but not in the book.
Apparently, Offred’s real name is never revealed in Atwood’s novel. In fact, readers speculated that her name was June because she had mentioned the name “June” once in the book. The reason the show chose this name is due to the reader’s suspicion.
11. Emily’s wife and sexual orientation is also not discussed in the book.
Alexis Bledel, who plays Emily in the show, is a lesbian. However, in the book, Emily’s sexuality is never revealed or discussed. Atwood told Vanity Fair it’s mainly because in 1985–when the book was published–people didn’t discuss sexual orientation as they do today.
It’s very ‘now. In the book, we don’t hear too much about [Ofglen]. In the series, she’s, number one, gay, [and] number two, she had a wife. You couldn’t have said that in 1985. It wouldn’t have made any sense. People weren’t talking that way. But they are now, so that makes sense.
10. The Handmaid’s names are important.
As many viewers figured out, the Handmaids take on the name of the man of the house which they are serving. The names are a combination of the man’s first name and a suffix of “belonging to.” Offred in the show “belongs to” Fred. However, Atwood explained that Off is important because they are “offering” themselves to the men.
9. There’s a reason for the flashbacks, too.
The producers of the show wanted to include flashbacks to life before Gilead for a reason–to scare viewers. The producers wanted the show to “take place” in 2017, so they made sure to discuss things like Uber, dating apps, and even Craigslist. Miller said:
“Across the board, I think we wanted to just make sure that it felt like now because it’s scarier. We wanted to update it or make it current in any way we could.”
8. The show actually had nothing to do with the 2016 election.
Elisabeth Moss said in an interview that they were already filming season one before the election results and Trump’s win.
7. Elisabeth Moss wears absolutely no makeup while filming.
While most shows use makeup to embellish and accentuate things, Moss films as Offred with absolutely no makeup at all. Moss said in an interview that she had to get really into character to ensure her facial expressions and coloring were realistic.
There wasn’t anything between you and the camera. Absolutely. And same with if I went paler or if I flushed or if I was cold, you could really see it. And we also did very, very close shots.
6. There’s a specific reason Atwood set the show in the United States.
Attwood said in an interview with Teen Vogue that the reason she didn’t set the show in Canada, despite being filmed there and being Canadian herself, is because Canada would never stand for such a thing.
“I have to say the resistance to such a thing would be very strong in Quebec. Canada has historically been the place you run away to. So that’s why you run away to it in The Handmaid’s Tale. People are running away to it right now, following an historic pattern.