Oh. My. God. I mean, praised be! TVLine reported yesterday that wlw icon Clea DuVall had been cast as Sylvia, the oft-mentioned wife of Emily (a.k.a. Ofglen) in The Handmaid’s Tale. DuVall will recur in season 2 of the Hulu drama opposite Emmy winner Alexis Bledel (I called it!), who was promoted to a series regular following her heartbreaking portrayal of the lesbian handmaid Emily in season 1. She won her Emmy for that role, one of 8 The Handmaid’s Tale racked up at the 2017 awards. The show swept the “actress in a drama” categories and took home best drama series. It also won in the production design, cinematography, screenwriting, and directing categories, all for the pilot “Offred.”
DuVall, who is openly gay, became something akin to lesbian royalty after she played Graham Eaton in Jamie Babbit’s 1999 cult classic But I’m a Cheerleader. Graham had a Mr. Darcy Lite feel to her, sweeping both the protagonist and the audience off their feet. Further, she is one of the first instances I can recall of the hot semi-androgynous futch trope now so common in wlw-oriented media. More recent examples include The L Word‘s Shane McCutcheon and any character played by Ruby Rose. Last year DuVall reunited with But I’m a Cheerleader co-star Natasha Lyonne, again playing her love interest in The Intervention.
The Handmaid’s Tale is far from the first TV show DuVall has recurred, or guest starred on. She currently recurs on Veep and has had guest roles on everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Law and Order. The veteran actress will be a great addition to the all-star cast of the acclaimed drama. Previously, I stated I was hoping they’d cast Tatiana Maslany to add some more Canadian actors to the Toronto-based show. It didn’t hurt that Sylvia is implied to be Canadian herself and that Maslany plays gay so well. But I care more about queer representation than Canadian representation, and having a queer actor playing Sylvia is ideal.
All in all, Clea DuVall in this role is a dream come true. Especially for those of us of a certain age who grew up mooning over Graham. She’s proven she can dial up the angst, which will no doubt be needed while playing a lesbian in Gilead. Let’s hope she and Bledel have great chemistry and can produce more tearjerker scenes and maybe even some happy moments. Those are few and far between on The Handmaid’s Tale, but hey, a girl can dream.