The Handmaid’s Tale season 4: Ann Dowd opens up on ‘exhilarating’ Aunt Lydia throwback

The Handmaid's Tale: Trailer for fourth series released

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While in the world of The Handmaid’s Tale, Gilead’s intention to build a society for women turned out in the worst way possible. One of the women whom Hulu viewers have been most fascinated by is undoubtedly Aunt Lydia (played by Ann Dowd). As the head Aunt in the district where the protagonist June (Elisabeth Moss) lives, she shows viewers how hateful women can be towards each other

Aunt Lydia truly feels for her girls and wants the best for them when it comes to birthing a child, but she isn’t scared to beat them and torture them to achieve that.

She is clutching to her position of power and is letting that overshadow any ounce of compassion or female loyalty she might have had.

Her character is bringing to the extreme how hateful women can be towards each other in a society where men are in charge. 

But one thing that fans of the show have been wondering from the beginning, is how she got to be like this. 

Season three shed some light on this, with a whole episode dedicated to the character’s backstory. 

In episode eight, viewers learnt that Aunt Lydia used to be a primary school teacher. 

She befriended the single mum of one of her pupils since she often was late to pick her son up. 

Lydia kept a close eye on the wellbeing of the kid, who often came to school unfed and wearing dirty clothes.

One time she even invited the mother and son to her house for dinner, which is where they started talking about Lydia’s personal life. 

The mother encouraged Lydia to start dating again, and since she had already eyed the school’s principal, the two went out on a date. 

However, when she tried to make a move on him at the end of the night and he wasn’t into it, Lydia blamed the mother for encouraging her to get back into dating. 

In retaliation, she called social services on her and had her child taken away. 

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While the story was deeply troubling and saddening to viewers, Dowd felt different about the episode.

During a recent panel with Film Independent, she confessed that she had spent time imagining what her character’s backstory could have been, but it didn’t compare to the “fantastic” script the writers’ team came up with. 

Having an episode all focused on herself, the actress’s attitude on set also changed: “Usually, as much I don’t like to say it, I’m like, ‘Okay, we’re on hour 12, how are we doing? How is the day going? Moving along are we? Any hope for a pre-dawn ending?’”

But when it came to this episode: “I had no sense of time. I could have gone from morning to whenever, it was exhilarating.”

Hopefully, fans will be able to see more of Aunt Lydia’s backstory once The Handmaid’s Tale spin-off show The Testaments comes out. 

The show will be based on the Margaret Atwood 2019 sequel to her original The Handmaid’s Tale. 

Part of the book is narrated by Aunt Lydia, and while it is set 15 years after the events of the original, she gives insight into her past. 

However, Aunt Lydia from the show is a very different character than that of the books, who emerges as a woman who accepts that she must do what is necessary to stay alive. 

While the creators of The Handmaid’s Tale show have acquired the right to the spin-off, it’s unlikely that much more will be known about it before the end of the main show, which isn’t anywhere in sight. 

The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 premieres Wednesday, April 28 on Hulu.

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