With online streaming services continuing to ramp up their focus on original material, Hulu are approaching the final marketing stages for their latest offering: The Handmaid’s Tale. Based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, the series stars Elizabeth Moss (The West Wing, Mad Men) as protagonist Offred, Joseph Fiennes (Flashforward, Shakespeare In Love) as her master Fred and Yvonne Strahovski as Fred’s wife Serena Joy.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian story set in the land of Gilead (formerly the United States) and sees women across the country forced into subservience due to a reproductive crisis. With a religious dictatorship under complete control, previously free and independent women such as Offred become mere possessions to those in charge – and must choose between accepting their fate or finding some way of resisting the new regime.
Hulu has now released the final trailer for the series and although few plot details are given away, fans of Atwood’s novel will see Gilead and its residents in all their familiar glory. The trailer does helpfully give some backstory to the plot in its opening shots, allowing newcomers to familiarize themselves with the premise before settling into a full throttle Orwellian assault on the senses.
The clip suggests that the intense, oppressive atmosphere present throughout Atwood’s prose will be accurately recreated in the Hulu adaptation – and the setting, characters and narrative appear to be sticking very closely to the source material. It is clear, however, that some minor details have been altered in order to bring the 1985 tale into a more contemporary setting (the references to terrorism for example).
Book to television adaptations have a recent history of success on online streaming services. Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle were both warmly received and praised by fans of the original works. As such, there’s little reason why The Handmaid’s Tale can’t be a similar hit for Hulu and the themes explored certainly tap into some of the fears and issues currently being debated in the real world.
However, it could be suggested that The Handmaid’s Tale is a far riskier property than many other recent novel adaptations. Although Atwood’s book is excellently written, thought provoking and immensely gripping, it is rarely uplifting and contains its fair share of extremely dark moments, one of which is partially shown in the new trailer. Those expecting a Hunger Games style rebellion will be sorely disappointed but anyone seeking more subtle and thoughtful material could be in for a treat.
The Handmaid’s Tale premieres April 26th on Hulu.