Hulu is expanding its original programming with a straight-to-series order for The Handmaid’s Tale, based off of the best-selling novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. Adapted once before in a 1990 film, this series promises to be a new take on the well-known source material. Bruce Miller (The 100) wrote the script and is also serving as executive producer alongside Daniel Wilson (feature film HT), Fran Sears (The Sophisticated Gents) and Warren Littlefield (Fargo). Atwood will be serving as a consulting producer. In front of the camera, Mad Men actress Elizabeth Moss is confirmed to be playing main character Offred, and Orange is The New Black actress Samara Wiley will be playing her college friend and fellow handmaid in training.
#HandmaidTale is set in the dystopian society of Gilead, built on what used to be the U.S. In a society filled with natural disasters and a dropping birthrate, women are treated as the property of the state. Offred, as one of the few fertile women left alive, serves as a handmaid in the commander’s household, forced into sexual servitude in hopes of repopulating the earth. In an attempt to try and find the daughter that was taken from her, she has to navigate a world of commanders, their wives, servants, and even other handmaids, with the threat of anyone being a state spy. A book considered ahead of its time, Hulu believes that this marks a perfect television event to bolster its dramatic offerings.
Adaptations are always a bit of a gamble, especially when it comes to the work of an author as well known and celebrated as Margaret Atwood. Popular works generally come with built-in audiences, but these same audiences have certain expectations for the tones and characters based on their own reading of the original work. If these are met and exceeded, then you have the passionate fanbase that Hulu is looking for. Fall beneath them or take a direction that they don’t like, and the piece will quickly be forgotten, if not flat-out rejected. While Hulu has done a good job getting strong talent to play the parts in #HandmaidTale, fans can be fickle, so it will be interesting to see how the reception plays out.
One interesting question that we will likely get answered as the reviews and social media impressions roll in for the show is exactly how much of the book’s plotline will be included in its 10-episode run. Will it try to cover all the events, use a truncated version (as many adaptations do), or leave some things out in anticipation of a future season? Also, if this does well, will we have the
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