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“The biggest hurdle is always the hurdle you put on yourself,” showrunner Bruce Miller told The Hollywood Reporter on overcoming the obstacle of being a man while telling a hugely powerful feminist story with The Handmaid’s Tale. “I loved the book, too. I didn’t want to ruin it. I really thought I was the best person for the job and if I thought someone else was, I was 100 percent for it.
“Whenever you start a show, you have weaknesses,” Miller told the Drama Showrunner Roundtable. “What you’ve got to do is just be honest with what those weaknesses are and reinforce them with all the other people who you’re working with.
“You want someone who’s going to be able to tell you very honestly, and know that you’re not asking for just reasons to pry into their life, but you have to know.”
The major weakness for Miller, he noted, is “first of all, I’m not a woman.” So he “[hired] not just one woman, but a group of women and women who are comfortable sharing intimate things with you; not intimate sexually, but intimate like how you go through the world and how you react to things.
“You have to have a group of women, but women who are honest and stubborn and good writers and who know you well enough to know that when you ask a question, you really want the answer.
“When I started my career, there was often one woman in the room,” Miller confessed. “My room (on Handmaid’s) is basically all women and me. And the thing that you get is the disagreement. Because if you have one black person in the room, that black person speaks for all black people in the universe.”
He noted a particular scene about menstruation, saying that none of the women in the room had a similar experience, while he assumed it would be universal. “When you have a singular voice in the room, there’s no one to challenge it. It’s much better when it is a debate.”
Miller has won two Emmys for writing and producing The Handmaid’s Tale.
The full Emmy roundtables air every Sunday on Sundance TV, beginning June 24, and on THR.com the following Monday. The full Drama Showrunner Roundtable with Lena Waithe, Miller, Peter Morgan, Dan Futterman, David Shore and Courtney Kemp airs Sunday, July 15. Tune in to THR.com/roundtables for more discussions featuring talent from the year’s top shows.
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