Elisabeth Moss Says You Shouldn’t Binge Watch The Handmaid’s Tale

Plus, why a Mad Men revival would be ‘boring’

Moss wasn't looking for another long-running show when the series came her way. Robert Ascroft for Adweek
Headshot of Jason Lynch

In this week’s cover story, Elisabeth Moss opened up about her gripping new Hulu series, The Handmaid’s Tale (which was just renewed for Season 2) and her seven-season run on Mad Men. But there was much more material from Adweek’s interview with the actress that wasn’t able to make it into the issue. Here are some of the best parts that got left out:

To binge or not to binge

While Hulu released the first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale at once, to help draw in audiences, the subsequent episodes are coming out weekly, which Moss fully supports. “I think we should still make sure there are a few shows that you can watch week by week. Also, this show is a bit intense, and it might be nice to watch once a week. There’s a romance to that,” said Moss, recalling the mantra of her Mad Men boss, Matthew Weiner. “Matt really loved the idea of the water cooler conversation that you have the next day, and analyzing the episode and waiting all week. I think it’s important to keep that alive.”

That said, Moss admits that when it comes to her own TV viewing habits, she’s a die-hard binge-watcher. “I will not watch a show until it’s over: I will wait until an entire season has aired so that I can binge-watch it,” said Moss, noting that she had been holding off on viewing Feud: Bette and Joan this spring for that reason. “I want to watch the whole thing, I don’t want to have to stop.”

A ‘boring’ version of Mad Men

While networks are bringing back shows like The X-Files and Will & Grace, Moss said she’s not interested in a Mad Men revival, in part because she thinks the most interesting decade of Peggy Olson’s life happened during the run of the show.

“It would be really boring,” she said of a revival, adding that given the harrowing extent to which Mad Men’s characters drank and smoked, it’s unlikely that many of them would be around to join Peggy a decade or two down the line. “Literally everyone’s dead,” she says, laughing at the idea. “It would just be a few of the young nonsmokers.”

One possibility, however, does have some merit: “Maybe it would be a single-camera, half-hour, like a Louis C.K., very normal life kind of situation,” she said. “I could see that, but it would be totally different, tonally.” Still, that’s not enough to change her thoughts on a revival. As she said in the cover story, “I’m never one to turn down a good idea. But I think we’re good, right?”

The truth about True Detective

Three years ago reports said that Moss was in talks to star in the second season of True Detective, in the role that was ultimately played by Rachel McAdams. But Moss said that she was never that close to landing the part, and she’s not even sure she would have wanted it.

“If they had offered it to me, which they never did, I would have strongly considered it off the success of that first season,” said Moss. “At the same time, is it the best idea to have the person who’s pretty well-known for playing this detective [in the 2013 miniseries Top of the Lake, which returns this fall for a second season], then go play another screwed up detective, with the same haircut? I would very much be repeating myself. Like, I’m not trying to avoid [Mad Men’s] Peggy, but I’m not actively seeking 1960s copywriter roles, you know?”

Given the intense backlash to True Detective Season 2—Adweek called it the most disappointing show of 2015—Moss ended up dodging a bullet. The actress said she never watched the second season, but “heard” it didn’t measure up to the first. “So it all worked out for the best, but I was honestly flattered that like people were jibber-jabbering about it on the internet,” she said. “It was cool that everyone thinks I could get this part.”

What Moss watches

The actress, who is an avid TV-watcher, said she’s drawn to darker, half-hour shows, especially the ones on networks like FX and Amazon. “I like a certain tone. I love Louie and Baskets and things that have that bittersweet, sad-clown kind of tone to them. That’s what’s I look for,” said Moss, who counts Search Party, Better Things, You’re the Worst, Catastrophe and Fleabag as among her favorites in that genre. And she’s baffled by the lack of attention being paid to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the creator and star of Fleabag: “How that girl isn’t locking down every award, I don’t understand!”

The best plan is no plan

Moss says she doesn’t have a long-term plan for her career, because the best opportunities have come her way when she least expected them. “Nothing that I’ve done have I been like, ‘This is what I want to do. I want to go do seven seasons of a TV show,’” she said, referring to her decision to sign on for Mad Men. “Which I didn’t want to do at the time, because TV is not what it is now. It was a bit of a risk signing that contact.”

Then, when The Handmaid’s Tale came her way last year, “I was not necessarily looking to sign up to do another longer running series,” she said. “So for me, the things that happen I tend to be more surprised by. And I love that.”

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.