Each season of Dear White People has dealt with an overarching story running through every episode, and every season has also had the students at Winchester University hooked to some fictional TV series. Season 1 had them watching a Scandal-like show called Defamation, and season 2 had something like Empire with Prince O’ Pal-ities starring Lena Waithe as rapper P. Ninny.
Switching it up once again in season 3, Dear White People includes a Handmaid’s Tale parody that honestly looks near-identical to the Hulu series, right down to the sad-looking handmaids and awkward sex scenes. The parody also holds absolutely nothing back when it comes to going after the show's portrayal of racism and feminism, and star Elisabeth Moss' status as a Scientologist.
We’re first introduced to the fake show early on in the season as Samantha White (Logan Browning) is hooked on it, even though her boyfriend Gabe (John Patrick Amedori) has his doubts about it. “Isn’t this show a little white feminism for you?” he asks as she watches another episode, with Sam responding back, “I want this white fictional lady to be free so bad.” According to Sam, she’s watching it because she and her late father used to go back and forth with theories about the show, so now it’s got a sentimental place in her heart. (And not that this isn’t a super sweet sentiment, but there are literally thousands of other shows better suited for theories; too bad we never got a Dear White People take on Game of Thrones.)
And Dear White People also isn’t just lampooning The Handmaid's Tale itself, but also its star, Moss. For the tiniest backstory — in case you’re not someone who sometimes falls down strange Wikipedia holes about Scientology — Moss is a known Scientologist and the topic has come up numerous times while she’s been doing press for the show, in light of the topics portrayed and Scientology’s stance on them, including homosexuality.
One user on Instagram, of all places, even asked her if doing the show has made Moss “think twice about Scientology” since “both Gilead and Scientology both believe that all outside sources (a.k.a. news) are wrong or evil.” Moss responded, “That’s actually not true at all about Scientology,” before launching into a long explanation:
"Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me. The most important things to me probably. And so Gilead and THT hit me on a very personal level. Thanks for the interesting question!"
She danced around the question without actually answering it, which is what she tends to do every time Scientology vs. The Handmaid's Tale is brought up, creating a no-win double-standard about Scientology's beliefs and what The Handmaid’s Tale is saying that she’s not addressing.
While Moss has yet to do so, Dear White People tackles this conundrum head-on, as Gabe jokes to Sam: “I heard the actress who plays July is actually in a cult and doesn’t understand the irony [of the show].” Gabe hits the nail on the head with his statement without actually saying the words "Elisabeth Moss" and "Scientology" (as you might recall, Moss' character is named June, which is pretty close to DWP's version, July).
This Handmaid’s Tale parody is not the only stand-out series to make it onto season 3, as there’s also a show called Mista Griggins starring a Tyler Perry-like actor, and a Queer Eye shoutout titled, U.S. of Gay.