The dystopic Hulu series where women have no reproductive rights was filming its fifth season on Friday when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.
Since its premiere, Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" has been used as a symbol of the real-world struggles women in America are facing when it comes to reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. After Friday's landmark Supreme Court ruling, executive producer Warren Littlefield says their story is hewing "closer and loser to reality."
On Friday, in a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that guaranteed women the right to an abortion at the federal level. Now, that decision will revert to the states, with several already outlawing the procedure.
"We’ve said many times over a number of years we would love to be less relevant, but sadly, the show’s been hauntingly relevant," Littlefield said on Friday night, per Deadline. "And today appears even more so."
Based on Margaret Atwood's dystopic novel, "The Handmaid's Tale" takes place in a near future where the United States has been replaced by Gilead with women as second-class citizens at best (forbidden even to read) and as breeding cattle at worst.
As the series hit the airwaves on Hulu in conjunction with the start of the Trump presidency, it has been often used by political protesters to emphasize their message, with the now iconic Handmaid garb of red and white robes with deep hoods becoming synonymous with female repression and resistance.
"It’s a tremendous source of pride to see protests throughout the country -- and also protests throughout the world -- where women are putting on the Handmaid’s costume; the robe, the bonnet; and we see it become a symbol of the fight for women’s freedom and women’s rights," said Littlefield. They have emerged again in these latest protests.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Littlefield said he feels "tremendous sadness, anger and frustration because of who we are right now in America, and what this says."
He also said that in the immediate aftermath of the ruling, it's hard for him to see hope. "I can't say that's an emotion I felt today," he shared. But he said it's important to find it again as a nation and not let go.
"We have to mobilize, we have to realize what women are going to have to go through to find services that protect them, the distances they have to go," he said. "We’re going to have to build new infrastructure in the states where it’s supported, fight as hard as we can and support -- financially, emotionally and with sweat."
When asked if they expected to make any changes to upcoming episodes in light of this latest move in the real America, Littlefield said he didn't think it would be necessary because "the series echoes what we're living with today."
At the same time, he feels that little bit of extra weight and scrutiny on the show, sharing how he's heard how people are connecting with their narrative as it relates to real-world developments.
"There’s been quite the connection where citizens of the world are shocked, dismayed and realize that our narrative drama is closer and closer to reality, and that’s wildly uncomfortable," he said. "But it also says to us that we are an important beacon, and so that’s our small part in this I guess."
As for what it could mean for the future of the series, Littlefield said that "it’s a powerful, powerful message that despite all that June is up against in Gilead, there’s a ray of hope in her fight and determinism." He added that Elisabeth Moss' June "hasn’t given up and we can’t give up."
Season 5 of "The Handmaid's Tale" is set to premiere September 14 on Hulu.