Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Mckenna Grace's Hospital Scene In The Handmaid's Tale Season 5 Coincidentally Mirrored Real Life

Season 5 of Hulu's Emmy-winning show, "The Handmaid's Tale," wrapped on November 9th, 2022. The series is primarily set in Gilead, a country that overthrew America, where women and "unworthy" citizens have had all of their rights stripped away. Due to this, the show has always been known for handling extremely sensitive topics. Some scenes in the very first episode of Season 1 were uncomfortable to watch, throwing viewers directly into the horrors of Gilead. Unthinkable and yet feeling a little too uncomfortably realistic, Gilead is terror incarnate for anyone who doesn't fall in line.

Since June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) finally managed to seek asylum in Canada, some fans might have found themselves lured into a false sense of security that things would start to look up. "The Handmaid's Tale" Season 5, however, didn't hold back. Showing the inner workings of Gilead as it attempts to "better" itself while also highlighting how Canada, once a safe place for American refugees, is slipping in Gilead's direction, Season 5 packed a hard punch for June, her family, and the friends she was forced to leave behind in Gilead, like Janine (Madeline Brewer) and the tragically young, Esther (McKenna Grace).

Season 5 was particularly unkind to Esther. Once a wife forced to marry her husband at too young an age (as is Gilead's way), Esther experienced unspeakable torment from both her husband and the men he allowed around her. After being discovered aiding June and other escaped Gilead women, Esther is punished by being turned into a Handmaid. As it turns out, McKenna Grace was facing her own struggles as Esther suffered on screen.

Esther's hospital scenes were unnerving to watch

Esther's storyline in Season 5 doesn't get any better for the teen. After some time at the Red Center, preparing her for her first posting, the only kindness she finds is Janine. Janine befriends her and, as someone who has been through all of the torment a Handmaid can go through already, tries to offer Esther some comfort and advice. Things take a turn for the worst for Esther, as Commander Putnam (Stephen Michael Kunken) takes advantage of her during their first meeting before she's formally given a posting.

Her anger and hurt over the incident led her to feed herself and Janine poisoned chocolate in an attempt to kill them both. Rushed to the hospital, where they're both in a coma, Janine wakes first. While Esther's under, however, the doctors confirm that she's three weeks pregnant, a shock to Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) because Esther hasn't been posted yet. The scene in Episode 6 of Aunt Lydia confronting Esther in his hospital room over what happened and watching Esther recall the atrocities done to her was hard to watch. Witnessing Esther throw herself around in her restraints and scream for Aunt Lydia to leave was anguishing.

McKenna Grace was actually in the hospital when this episode aired

Many elements went into bringing Esther's horrific story to life, like a solid script that handled the sensitive topic maturely and respectfully and the fantastic performance by McKenna Grace. The hospital scenes, especially, really stuck with viewers. One of the reasons those scenes might have felt so authentic was because of Grace's real-life parallel of also being hospitalized at the time of Season 5's airing.

Grace took to Instagram once the season finale aired to share the news of her spinal surgery. She wrote, "Occasionally, life imitates art, and the night my episode of Handmaid's Tale where I was in a hospital bed came out, I was actually in a real hospital bed. Social media only reflects what we want people to know-often we don't see the ugly, hard, less-flattering sides of a person and their life."

Continuing on to say that she plans to reveal more about her experiences with her struggles, Grace elaborated that it's been easier for her to hide her issues and write songs about them instead. Grace thanked her doctor, Dr. Skaggs, and all the medical professionals who helped her on her journey.

Grace also thanked her parents for staying with her the whole time and her friends by saying, "Who showed me that they are here in the exciting/fun times, but would also be there in the absolute lowest moment of my life." This particular line hit incredibly close to home for "The Handmaid's Tale" fans because as Grace was experiencing the lowest moment in her life, fans of the show were watching Esther's lowest point at the same time.