- Handmaid's Tale -'The Testaments' Spinoff Is A "Massive Discussion," According To The Showrunner
In part one of my conversation with The Handmaid's Tale showrunner Bruce Miller, we discussed everything that happened in the Season 4 finale; in part two of our chat, we touched on his predictions for Season 5. Here, in part three, Miller and I look beyond The Handmaid's Tale and discuss what a Testament's spinoff might look like. (In part four of our conversation, we talk about how THT's epilogue excites him, as a TV writer.)
Previously, when I spoke to executive producer Warren Littlefield, he told me that as Margaret Atwood was writing The Testaments, she was also engaging with Miller and saying, “Here are some things that are important to me [to incorporate now].”
Littlefield went on to say that a spinoff "would be called something like The Handmaid’s Tale: The Testaments, because it’s born from that. I think Bruce Miller is thinking about how does this journey end."
So, how is Miller thinking about it all? Here is part three of my conversation with Miller.
The Dipp: Even though the bulk of The Testaments takes place 15 years in the future from the events in The Handmaid’s Tale, it provides backstories, the timeline of some coinciding with what’s happening now. You used some of the Testaments book material in The Handmaid’s Tale this season, as you peppered in with Aunt Lydia starting to blackmail Commanders and thinking about how to better protect her girls and make her programs more sustainable.
What’s the overall plan for the two shows? Can they coexist? Will one end and then the spinoff begin?
It’s a massive discussion, and we’re in the middle of it.
It’s nice that Margaret Atwood liked the fact that we went into depth with all these areas that she had just mentioned in The Handmaid’s Tale and she wanted to continue to expand that world, backwards and forwards in time. It does give us real estate. I haven’t exactly decided how we’re going to integrate all that moving into The Testaments story, but it’s inspiring to know that Margaret thinks it’s solid enough to build the foundation, and she’s given us a few more rocks in that foundation. She is our builder.
It is the ongoing arc of Aunt Lydia, her trying to figure out how to both be herself and follow her moral course, but also how to do what is a difficult job that she considers to have huge implications. The weight of the world, the state of the world rests on her, if she can get these girls to reproduce. She’s always balancing those things. I think Lydia previously always looked down at her girls and the Aunts and said, “How can I affect this group to make things work more smoothly to be successful?”
And for the first time, she’s also looking up: “How can I adjust the people above me?” That’s a little bit of a different problem. You can’t use a cattle prod there. So she’s adjusting. She’s going to be much more active, much more of a mover than a participant when it comes to the decisions that are being made above her.
It was so much fun to just weave The Testaments in a little bit this season – a little bit of the phraseology, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Lydia has basically been the Lydia from The Testaments all along, just quietly gathering up people’s information forever, because she’s not an idiot. It was lovely to see, because The Handmaid’s Tale book is very much from June’s point of view, and this was a book with another point of view, and Lydia’s point of view hadn’t been represented before.
We originally wrote Lydia from the outside, because we had June’s point of view. So to pull that back a little, this was delicious, especially for Ann Dowd. She did the narration for the audiobook, and it’s like a nightmare and a piece of poetry at the same time.
As for the decision about the two shows, there are all sorts of aspects that are not born from creativity. It involves Hulu, marketing, and scheduling. Personally, I would prefer to end one and start the next, just because I would like to focus. I love it so much, I don’t want to rush through anything. But what ends up being the decision is way above my pay grade. I’m just a little writer!