In light of the critical acclaim and massive success of “The Handmaid’s Tale”, one would assume that the author of the book upon which the provocative series is based would be reaping some hefty financial rewards.
Unfortunately, that assumption is incorrect.
As Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood explains in an interview with WealthSimple, she actually hasn’t seen a whole lot of cash from the success of the show based on her 1985 novel — because she no longer owns the rights.
“‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ television series was not my deal. I sold the rights to MGM in 1990 to make a movie — so when the TV rights were sold to Hulu, the money went to MGM,” says Atwood. “We did not have a negotiating position. I did get brought on as an executive consultant, but that wasn’t a lot of money. People think it’s been all Hollywood glamour since the TV show happened, but that’s not happening to me. But book sales have been brisk, so there’s that.”
While the financial windfall may not have been great, the cultural relevance of “The Handmaid’s Tale” has never been higher as the show heads into its second season. Set in a dystopian future in which the world’s few fertile women are kept as property by the wealthy elite, “The Handmaid’s Tale” has become a rallying point for women in the midst of #MeToo and Time’s Up.
The #MeToo movement, says Atwood, “is a symptom of something bigger. The same way having a temperature when you’re sick is a symptom. When you have a temperature, you think, there’s something wrong with me. What shall I do? That’s what #MeToo is. It’s a wake-up call, not the solution. Structural support for women was allowed to lapse. We were told all we had to do was wear more Chanel and smile a lot and lean in.”
While Atwood, 78, admits there are advantages to being at the forefront of the societal conversation, she’d much rather live in a world where talk of women’s rights would be irrelevant.
“I’m glad people are talking about ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ again,” she says. “Every election, there’s a surge in book sales. But I would like to live in a society where people are not saying, ‘Oh my god, this is where this is going to happen.’ I would prefer this not to be happening. It’s like that sign that someone was holding up during the Women’s March. ‘I can’t believe I’m still holding up this f**king sign.'”
The second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” premieres on April 25.