Hulu expands its roster of original drama content with an ambitious (and long overdue) adaptation: A limited television series of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. While there was a 1990 film starring Natasha Richardson and Faye Dunaway, it has mostly faded into the past, with The Atlantic asking in 2015, “Is the book still too radical for film?” More like, it’s the perfect amount of radical for the current television landscape, as a ten-episode drama starring Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss.
This isn’t Moss’ first foray into speculative fiction; she impressed movie audiences in the otherworldly romantic drama The One I Love, and has a supporting role in the disturbing, dystopic High-Rise. As the eponymous handmaid Offred, she’ll take on the red mantle from Richardson, narrating a harrowing tale about how the totalitarian Republic of Gilead reduces women to the Madonna/whore complex of Wives and handmaids (and all of the servants and caretakers in between). Separated into color-coded castes, forbidden to read or even think for themselves, the women find they have no one to trust outside of their imposed hierarchies; but Offred, searching for her lost family, finds herself caught up in conspiracies larger than she imagined.
Published in 1985, the novel was ahead of its time, the kind of story that still resonates more than thirty years later. While it has been adapted into various media, it could use another chance on the screen. Mark Burnett, president of television and digital and Steve Stark, president of television development and production at MGM, said in a press release:
The Handmaid’s Tale is a project that we have been committed to bringing to life as its story remains as powerful today as it did when Margaret first published her novel. Handmaid’s Tale has won multiple awards inspiring a film, a graphic novel, an opera, a ballet and finally, for the first time, a compellingly immersive drama series that has found the perfect home at Hulu and its star in Elisabeth Moss.
Bruce Miller (The 100, Alphas, The 4400) is writing the script; he will executive produce alongside Daniel Wilson (who co-produced the 1990 film), Fran Sears (The Sophisticated Gents), and Warren Littlefield (Fargo). It will probably look a tad different from the 1990 movie:
The Handmaid’s Tale is set to debut on Hulu sometime in 2017.