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What Worked for Book to Screen Transfer with 'The Handmaid’s Tale'

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Swara Kalva ’18 expresses she appreciates the ways in which the cable show highlighted key concepts present in the original novel.

Swara Kalva ’18 expresses she appreciates the ways in which the cable show highlighted key concepts present in the original novel.

Anastasia Koutavas

Swara Kalva ’18 expresses she appreciates the ways in which the cable show highlighted key concepts present in the original novel.

Anastasia Koutavas

Anastasia Koutavas

Swara Kalva ’18 expresses she appreciates the ways in which the cable show highlighted key concepts present in the original novel.

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Three hundred and eleven pages, ten episodes, and eight Emmy’s: the new hit series, “The Handmaid’s Tale” has grabbed the attention of watchers and readers alike with its dystopian premise and its award-winning production. Over the course of five months, the produced series has brought more attention to the novel’s story, all the while raking in a few new awards.

Set in a dystopian society where women are denied most rights unrelated to fertility, the novel and television show follow the narrative of a handmaid and the people whom she encounters, while struggling with issues of trust, truth, and survival. With few altercations, the Hulu streaming television series remains faithful to the plot of the original tale, a dystopian novel published by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood in 1985 ; in fact, those who have had the chance to see the Hulu series believe that did the novel more than justice.

“Not only was the Hulu series an accurate portrayal of the world of the novel, but it visually went a step further and appealed to a lot of different demographics.”

So what makes a television series better than the original book on which it is based? For “The Handmaid’s Tale”,  “the show was actually a little easier to understand,” said Kathryn Varghese ’18. “The book was good for imagining what was going on, but there were little twists here and there in the actual Hulu show, and seeing those made it interesting and still feel real.”

As owners of eight Emmy titles, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, one could make a strong argument that the actors in the Hulu series met – if not exceeded  all expectations for a successful book to screen transfer. Bronx Science students tend to think so too.

“Not only did the main character play her role emotionally well, but the supporting actors and cast all contributed the perfect amounts of characterization as well,” Fiona Sullivan ’18 said. “The show was really easy to follow, something that almost made it better than the book.”

Perhaps most eye-catching to students was how the dystopian premise made a place for itself in the contemporary state of world affairs. “Whether intentional or not,” Kalva saID, “it was really interesting how the plot fits into the modern American political climate, especially with the protests going on. Not only was the Hulu series an accurate portrayal of the world of the novel, but it visually went a step further and appealed to a lot of different demographics.”

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