Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale quickly emerged as the streaming service’s first must-watch original series shortly after it debuted back in April. The difficult-to-bear drama takes place in a near dystopian future where a religious theocracy has been established in the United States and fertile women are trapped in a new form of sex slavery. Yeah, it’s a heavy series, but it is also one of the most riveting shows of the entire year. Creator Bruce Miller, executive producer Warren Littlefield, director Reed Morano, and a cast led by the phenomenal Elisabeth Moss—who is a frontrunner in the Best Actress race at the upcoming Emmys—have delivered something truly special.
But can they do it again?
The television landscape is littered with series that broke out in their rookie seasons only to flounder in the follow up. Hulu (32 million individual users, according to Forbes) needs The Handmaid’s Tale to maintain its excellence if it hopes to ever get within striking distance of Netflix (128 million) and Amazon (85.3 million). As of now, Hulu accounts for 16.5 percent of total users in the U.S. subscription video on demand market, per the outlet. But if the creative team behind The Handmaid’s Tale is to be believed, season two will be just as enthralling, which will ideally lead to a growth in subscribers.
“I read the outline and got full body chills,” Moss told Variety. “Give up trying to guess what happens.”
Miller said he speaks with author Margaret Atwood, whose book of the same name serves as the basis for the show, and that “she’s more excited than any of you. She read the outlines and she’s been involved and influenced by what’s going on in the media right now.” The showrunner knows that the series struck a particular chord with audiences who felt it reflected the polarizing political landscape of today.
“The writing staff is a smart, news junkie bunch,” he said. “They are influenced by those events in the way they’re thinking about the show. It’s a political show. It’s about politics and people in power.”
Season one ended with Moss’ Offred/June getting pregnant (and also being taken in by the nefarious Eye). Season two will emphasize motherhood as a theme. “What does it mean to be a good mother? It’s about the way we mother the people in our lives,” Miller said.
Viewers will also see the infamous Colonies oft mentioned in threatening tones by those in power. “I’m sure it will be another wretched and fascinating place, like Gilead,” Bledel said. Also coming in season two is a deeper look at Commander Waterford’s (Joseph Fiennes) environment of Gilead and Moira’s (Samira Wiley) time in Little America, Canada.
Hulu may not have the built in customer base of Amazon (AMZN) or the cultural footprint of a Netflix, but The Handmaid’s Tale represents a massively successful foray into original programming. And thanks to its growing library of licensed content (especially as Netflix (NFLX) continues to purge non-originals) Hulu is steadily carving out its own space in the streaming market.