Alexis Bledel has decided not to return for the fifth season of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Bledel, who has starred as Emily/Ofglen on the dystopian Hulu drama since 2017, said she decided to “step away” from the series in a statement released by Variety on May 27. “After much thought, I felt I had to step away from The Handmaid’s Tale at this time,” the statement read. “I am forever grateful to Bruce Miller for writing such truthful and resonant scenes for Emily, and to Hulu, MGM, the cast and crew for their support.” In 2018, Bledel won an Emmy for best supporting actress for her performance in the series.
Based on the best-selling 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale follows a group of women suffering at the hands of a fascist regime known as the Gilead, which seized control of the American government and stripped women of their basic human rights. By the season four finale, Emily, who had already escaped to Canada, agreed to join rebel leader June (Elizabeth Moss) to take down Gilead. It’s unclear how the series will address Alexis Bledel’s absence in the upcoming season.
Since its debut in 2017, many The Handmaid’s Tale viewers have pointed out disturbing parallels between Gilead and our own government’s actions against women, which have only become even more apparent in recent years. In the wake of the news that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, Oklahoma just passed one of the most restrictive pieces of abortion legislation in the country.
The Oklahoma law bans abortions at the point of “fertilization,” which it defines as “the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.” Furthermore, Oklahoma calls on private citizens to bring civil lawsuits against any person who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” Outside of the medical professionals that provide treatment, this also includes anyone who provides money for the abortion or even gives the patient a ride to their appointment.