Hulu has added another star to its adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale: Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black) will play a pivotal character tied to the eponymous handmaid Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) past.
In the dystopian future of The Handmaid’s Tale, the United States has been transformed into the totalitarian Republic of Gilead, where women are separated into color-coded castes based on their perceived “sins” from their pre-Gilead lives: Virtuous women get to be the Wives to Commanders; older, infertile women are Marthas, or domestic servants; other older women, unmarried and infertile, become the Aunts who train the very fertile Handmaids at the Red Centers. These women—named “Of” plus the name of their Commander, e.g., Offred or Ofglen—become part of the Commander’s household and are expected to bear the children the Wives cannot.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wiley “will play Offred’s best friend from college, her fellow handmaid-in-training at the Red Center, and a connection to life before Gilead.” That most likely points to Wiley playing Moira, Offred’s best friend who gets taken to the Red Center shortly after Offred. While Offred is considered, under Gilead law, to be an adulteress (her husband divorced his first wife to marry her), Moira’s reason for getting snatched is that she’s a lesbian. Later in the novel, (spoiler) she escapes the Red Center and eventually turns up as a Jezebel, a prostitute working at a brothel. That’s assuming that the writers (The 100‘s Bruce Miller penned the pilot) decide to stick to the book’s plot.
Atwood will serve as a consulting producer alongside executive producers Daniel Wilson (the 1990 movie version of The Handmaid’s Tale), Fran Sears (The Sophisticated Gents), Warren Littlefield (Fargo), and Ilene Chaiken (creator of The L Word). The Handmaid’s Tale will premiere on Hulu sometime in 2017.