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Margaret Atwood Defends Season Two Of The Handmaid's Tale

© Channel 4

Margaret Atwood has revealed that she has no problem with the way her 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale has been adapted for television, even when it diverges from her story in the second season – because she has no control over the decision-making.

Speaking at a Q&A event at the Hay literary festival over the weekend, the Canadian author revealed she felt ‘lucky’ about the way her original story had been handled so far by the show’s producers.

‘I think I would have to be awfully stupid to resent it because things could have been so much worse,’ she said. ‘I think I am lucky. They have done a tippet-top job, the acting is great, they’ve stuck to the central set of premises.’

‘It’s a television series,’ Atwood added. ‘If you’re going to have a series you can’t kill off the central character and you also can’t have the central character escape to safety in episode one of season two. It’s not going to happen.’

Atwood’s comments come after the first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale’s second season received criticism for scenes of violence against women, which some viewers believed to be gratuitous and in conflict with the feminist origins of the novel (writer Bruce Miller and director Mike Barker maintain that such scenes are based on real-life incidents, and are crucial in moving the show’s plot forward). The second episode, which was broadcast on Channel Four shortly before Atwood’s comments, was similarly hailed as one of the most violent yet (though some viewers’ complaints pointed out that the show might be ‘too dark’ in the more literal sense, with the dark, moody camera filters sometimes making it difficult to follow).

Revealing that the TV rights to The Handmaid’s Tale were sold in the late 1980s, when ‘only Dallas-type soap operas were being made at the time,’ the novelist went on to emphasise how removed she was from the finished product. ‘None of this was in any way under my control,’ she said. ‘Even if I had thrown a tantrum and said “you can’t do this,” that would have had no legal standing.’

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