Despite the sense that the TV landscape has become overwhelmed with options, the truth is it only takes one show to put a streaming service or a network on the map. For Netflix, it was House of Cards, for Amazon, it was The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. And over at Hulu, success came in the unlikely package of The Handmaid's Tale, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian horror novel. Now Hulu is planning on doubling down, with an adaptation of the Handmaid's Tale sequel The Testaments, Atwood's brand new book, which comes out Sept. 10.
Some of Atwood's work was initially written as a series, like her MaddAddam Trilogy. But The Handmaid's Tale, which was released in 1985, was a standalone novel. Many details about Gilead (and Offred) were never filled in, left up to the readers' imaginations. But the hit TV series used up all that material in the first run of 10 episodes, leaving Seasons 2 and 3 (and Season 4 in 2020) to start answering those questions.
The popularity of the story and the TV show filling out more of the world inspired Atwood to write a sequel. The Testaments is set 15 years after the story of Offred. It offers differing viewpoints of Gilead from other walks of life and gives the reader a hint of what might become of the country one day.
An exclusive extract from the forthcoming novel, published in The Guardian, reveals some of the other women, including one viewers will recognize.
- Agnes, aka "Witness 396A" a young girl who grew up in Gilead with a happy childhood
- Daisy, aka "Witness 396B" a Canadian teenager who learns she was born in Gilead.
- Aunt Lydia, who has become revered for her work with children and Handmaids by Gilead's elite.
Now, their stories will air alongside June's rebellion, as The Testaments will be adapted for Hulu. According to Time Magazine, which broke the news:
Hulu and MGM will develop Margaret Atwood’s new novel The Testaments for the screen... Bruce Miller, showrunner for the Emmy-winning television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, is involved in discussions about how to best approach the new material. It’s unclear at this stage what form The Testaments will take — whether it will be folded into the existing Hulu series or developed as a separate work.
For Hulu, this could be a way to draw out more seasons for The Handmaid's Tale beyond the story of June. The show's current problem is that it has to keep devising ways to keep her from escaping Gilead so that the story will continue.
As Atwood notes in her interview with Time, this has put a strain on the narrative:
They can’t keep Offred in Gilead for many more seasons, or a certain amount of wheel-spinning will be going on. They have to move her along — and I’ve given them lots of ways of how that would happen.
Viewers will have to wait and see if The Handmaid's Tale will fold in The Testaments for future seasons, or if one show will give way to the next. The Testaments hits shelves Sept. 10, 2019.