In the past decade, films and television series set in foreboding dystopian futures have become a massively popular sub-genre of science fiction. Before the YA adaptation-propelled phenomena began, award winning, Canadian Author Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale, a novel that explored many of these same themes currently in demand by fans of this genre. It was announced earlier this year that an MGM ten-part TV adaptation of Atwood’s novel had been acquired by streaming service Hulu. Now a release date for Spring 2017 has been confirmed and some fresh cast images released.
The Handmaid’s Tale was written in 1985 and explores a not-too-distant future where human civilization is on the brink of extinction due to environmental destruction and disease. Society has reacted to these threats and the inevitable social unrest by allowing a patriarchal, totalitarian regime into power, with echoes of traditional religious fundamentalism. The narrative follows Offred, a woman living in servitude as a Handmaid (a fertile woman forced into bearing offspring to repopulate the species). The series adaptation was written by Bruce Miller (The 100) who will also executive produce, with Atwood acting as a consulting producer. Also producing are Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears and Warren Littlefield (Fargo). Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss has been cast to play Offred and will be joined by a talented cast including, Samira Wiley (Orange Is The New Black), Joseph Fiennes (Hercules) and Yvonne Strahovski (Dexter).
Deadline reports that Hulu have set the release date of The Handmaid’s Tale for April 26th 2017 and unveiled a series of images from the series to whet audience appetites (see below):
Atwood commented on the adaptation via Hulu’s website:
“The Handmaid’s Tale is more relevant now than when it was written, and I am sure the series will be watched with great interest. I have read the first two scripts and they are excellent; I can hardly wait to see the finished episodes.”
Due to The Handmaid’s Tale’s political content and the explored theme of female rights, perhaps the current social climate is the ideal time for this adaptation to make a resurgence. From the pensive gazes of the cast in these images, it would seem the tension of a dangerously oppressive governing regime could be explored with more of a somber sense of responsibility towards its social commentary than the action-based counterparts currently available within the sub-genre.
The thoughtful choices of creative leads and casting for this series should be reassuring for fans of Atwood’s renowned voice within social science fiction. If successful, The Handmaid’s Tale could create room in the market for more age-encompassing offerings in the dystopian future branch of science fiction.
The Handmaid’s Tale 10 part series will be available on Hulu on Wednesday April 26th 2017.