In the midst of yet another dire, hopeless situation in The Handmaid's Tale, the newest episode offers viewers an unexpected beacon of light at just the right time. Spoilers ahead for the June 27 episode of The Handmaid's Tale. When June finds a working car in an abandoned garage, the possibility of escape isn't the only thing to excite her. A soothing, familiar voice comes through the car speakers — one that most people would know anywhere. Oprah Winfrey's radio cameo on The Handmaid's Tale was a welcome reminder that a world outside Gilead still exists and is fighting for justice, and in June's situation, that was much-needed inspiration.
Oprah's radio monologue wasn't just a bit of a rallying cry — it also gave a glimpse into what international relations have been like since the world received firsthand accounts of the suffering inside Gilead from the women trapped there. It seems there may be trouble brewing abroad for the oppressive regime:
"Radio Free America, broadcasting from somewhere in the great white north. And now, this news. The American government in Anchorage today received promises of economic aid from India and China. In the United Kingdom, additional sanctions on Gilead were announced, as well as plans to raise the cap on American refugees relocating from Canada. Now, a tune to remind everyone who's listening — American patriot or Gilead traitor — we are still here. Stars and stripes forever, baby."
As the handmaids are kept in the dark about what's going on in other parts of the world, so, for the most part, are the viewers. Eagle-eyed fans are desperate for any ounce of information about the state of the rest of the planet, and this scene really delivered.
It's unclear in the episode whether Oprah is playing herself or simply a general radio announcer — no name is provided — but in either case, a voice as recognizable as hers is a purposeful choice, a reminder of the influence of the real person behind it. The Handmaid's Tale does like to chillingly remind viewers that Gilead exists in a version of our real-life universe, one where celebrities and familiar pop culture once existed as we know it, as also evidenced by June finding the Friends DVDs earlier this season.
Assuming the voice is meant to be Oprah's in the world of the show, at least Oprah apparently prevails even when the world ends. It certainly isn't a stretch to think that she would spearhead a hopeful radio station for those still fighting. "I'm choosing to believe it was real Oprah," wrote Reddit user soswinglifeaway in a thread about the cameo. "She made it out and is helping the resistance against Gilead. You know she would in real life!"
It's no surprise the icon would want to lend a helping hand to rebels — apparently, Oprah is a longtime fan of The Handmaid's Tale. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Elisabeth Moss, who plays June, said that when she was in close quarters with the legendary host and actor, Oprah couldn't stop prodding her for information.
“She was in the dressing room next to me and she kept popping back into the room to ask questions about the show, or to make comments, or ask what was coming up for a specific character,” Moss told the outlet. “Then she’d leave and I’d close the door and have a silent freak-out moment, just screaming silently, that Oprah Winfrey even knew what the show was, and then she would pop back up with more questions.”
The Handmaid's Tale excels at juxtaposing pop culture elements like recognizable songs and voices with its bleak landscape to drive home the fact that June was once just like its viewers, watching Oprah on TV and listening to 1980s bops by Bruce Springsteen. Usually that's a depressing reminder, but this time, it served another purpose. June knows without a doubt now that the world hasn't forgotten about people like her, and that calming, safe voices still occupy radio airwaves, even in a seemingly post-apocalyptic world.