The cast of the new dystopian Hulu series The Handmaid's Tale got itself into some hot water at a Tribeca Film Festival panel earlier this week when they resisted calling the show feminist. "Honestly, for me, it’s not a feminist story," said Elisabeth Moss, who bore the brunt of the backlash on Twitter. "It’s a human story because women’s rights are human rights." Moss clarified her intent in an interview with Refinery29 on Wednesday, explaining she meant that she show is both a feminist and a humanist work. Now, co-star Samira Wiley is offering her take on the controversy.
Wiley told The Hollywood Reporter that she believes the cast's comments were misinterpreted. But she also right noted that their are people who are just uncomfortable with the "feminist" label — possibly referring to her co-stars. "Sometimes people can be afraid of that word, but I don’t think it’s anything to be afraid of. I wonder if some of the things from my panel and my other cast mates got a little misconstrued," she said. She also thinks they were trying to appeal to viewers who might not identify that way. "What they were trying to say is that there are so many things in this for people who identify as feminists and there are things in this show that people can get out of it that don't identify as that. The show is so multilayered, and a lot of people should be excited about it, however they identify."
Moss definitively cleared up the controversy in her interview with R29 on Wednesday, saying "I welcome any time feminism enters a conversation. I would firstly say, obviously, it is a feminist work. This is Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. I've been filming it for six months, I've been involved with it for a year, I've read the book nine million times. It is a feminist show, it is a feminist book, and as a card-carrying feminist, I am proud of that."
In regards to the criticism she received, Moss clarified that she thinks The Handmaid's Tale is about feminism, and more. "I think that it is a feminist work, and it is also a humanist work, which is what I believe Margaret says as well, so I'll defer to the author of the book on that one," she said. "Women's rights are human rights, hence how it becomes a humanist work."
Moss thought the controversy was overblown, and is all for keeping the discussion going. "I also welcome this conversation, I wouldn't even categorize it as a backlash, in my opinion. Yes, let's talk about this. It's when we don't talk about it, and when we aren't allowed to air our opinions, is when we run into a problem. Let's talk. Let's bring it into the conversation." We can't argue with that.