The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 is drawing to a close, with only two more episodes left in the current second season. But even before the season ends on July 11, fans already know Gilead isn't going anywhere just yet. The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 was announced at the beginning of May, so the Waterfords, Offred, Nick, and hopefully more will return next year. But the series has now long exhausted the source material and is running under its own power. So how many The Handmaid's Tale seasons will there be ultimately before the production decides to overthrow Gilead once and for all?
In a recent Q&A ahead of the closing of Emmy voting, Hulu CEO Randy Freer discussed the future of his channel, which is a relative newcomer to original streaming content, as well as its dystopian flagship series. Speaking to Variety, he said:
'Handmaid’s Tale' has been an incredible experience for Hulu… I think the second season is even better than the first. It’s accessible, it’s big, it’s bold, and it still keeps that conversation going. They actually opened the writers’ room to the third season, if you can believe it, a couple weeks ago… The creative process will determine, is it a fourth season, is it five seasons?
Fans would dearly love to see Offred get the heck out of Gilead, and maybe watch Serena Joy lead another revolution to take down the country she mistakenly built. But as far as Freer sees it, there's no traditional endpoint for the series right now.
And I think that’s one of the benefits for creators in the streaming world — shows can take a natural progression, they can live for as long as they should live or they can end. I think it’s unfair sometimes in the characterization of broadcast television that we talk about a show’s been canceled after four years or seven years, whatever it is… Look, I hope, as success goes, there’s 10 seasons of 'The Handmaid’s Tale.'
That kind of open-ended answer is a little dangerous for a show like The Handmaid's Tale. The success is as much due to the timing of the series' debut coming on the heels of Trump's election as it is the story itself. Running 10 seasons would (hopefully) run it straight smack dab into another administration, where it might not thrive due to intense topicality in the same way.
But remember, HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo said much of the same thing after Game of Thrones became a phenomenon and their flagship show. In fact, he said he wanted it to run 20 seasons. The showrunners, on the other hand, had a very different (and very firm) idea of how long the show would run for (seven 10-episode seasons). Although they've extended slightly to keep everyone happy, doing seven episodes in Season 7 in order to have six episodes for a Season 8, in the end, producers are finishing the run much as they planned from the beginning.
Do the writers for The Handmaid's Tale have a similar endgame plotted out for the show's eventual series finale? If they do, the show could be fine. Author Margaret Atwood, who wrote the original story, is one of the consultants on the show and does not want to see her beloved creation fly off the rails and jump the shark. But a consultant is merely that, and the show could easily disregard her opinions if Hulu pressures it to keep going past the natural sell-by date.
But first, fans need to get to the end of Season 2 and see who, if anyone, survives to make it to the third. The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 finale streams July 11, 2018, on Hulu.