In Review

The Handmaid's Tale: What do we know so far?

Adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel is set to be dark, mysterious and gritty

The Handmaid's Tale Elizabeth Moss

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel, is the latest literary work to get a high-profile small-screen adaptation. Due to be released on the American streaming service Hulu in April, the ten-episode series promises to be dark, mysterious and gritty.

So what's the show about and who's involved? Here's what we know so far:

What's the story?

Never one to shy away from the darker side of social issues and gender roles, Atwood's novel chronicles the lives of women in the fictional Republic of Gilead, where women are facing widespread infertility. 

As a result, fertile women, known as "handmaids", are designated to wealthy families by the government, in order to maintain the population. These handmaids are subjugated by a patriarchal dictatorship and forced into sexual slavery in order to help rich couples conceive.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"106662","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]  The video description for the official trailer adds more teasing details: "In this terrifying society, Offred must navigate between commanders, their cruel wives, domestic marthas, and her fellow handmaids – where anyone could be a spy for Gilead – all with one goal: to survive and find the daughter that was taken from her."

The Canadian author has long been fascinated by what she calls "speculative fiction" rather than science fiction and says The Handmaid's Tale is very much the former. "Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen," she told The Guardian in a 2003 interview.

Who is involved?

Elisabeth Moss of Mad Men fame has been cast as the titular handmaid, Offred; a divorcee who is forced into sexual servitude in order to bear children with a military commander, played by Joseph Fiennes.

Elsewhere, Orange is the New Black star Samira Wiley will appear, along with Yvonne Strahovski, Ann Dowd and Madeline Brewer. Atwood will be involved in the production, acting as a consulting producer for the show.

Bruce Miller, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears and Warren Littlefield have been brought in as producers for the series.

Where can I see it?

If you're based in the UK, the answer is not yet known. The show was created by and will premiere on Hulu, a US-only streaming service that has yet to make it to our shores.

However, information is expected regarding a UK premiere, so look out for updates.

Recommended

Vicky McClure: from Dorothy Perkins to Line of Duty
Line of Duty and Trigger Point star Vicky McClure
Profile

Vicky McClure: from Dorothy Perkins to Line of Duty

Trigger Point
Vicky McClure and Adrian Lester star in ITV drama Trigger Point 
In Review

Trigger Point

Best new TV crime dramas of 2022
Martin Freeman as Chris Carson in The Responder
In Depth

Best new TV crime dramas of 2022

Stephen Graham: Britain’s most ‘reliably excellent’ actor
Stephen Graham at the international premiere of The Irishman
Profile

Stephen Graham: Britain’s most ‘reliably excellent’ actor

Popular articles

Are we heading for a snap general election?
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Today’s big question

Are we heading for a snap general election?

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik
In Depth

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern adjusts her face mask following a press conference
In Depth

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?

The Week Footer Banner