May 4, 2016

The Handmaid’s Tale, touchstone of adolescence, to be adapted for Hulu



Natasha Richardson in the 1990 film adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Image via The Verge.

Women (and men) of my generation: get ready. Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale is coming to TV.

Flavorwire’s Moze Halperin reports that Elisabeth Moss (Top of the Lake, Queen of Earth, Mad Men) will star in the adaptation of the wildly popular novel that imagines a world where a “male-run Christian theocracy” comes to power after a terrorist attack, and women are pushed into subservience. Moss will play the roll of Offred, the first-person narrator who—as nearly everyone my age will remember from high school English class—is one of a caste of women whose job it is to bear children for men whose wives, as a result of dangerous environmental damage, can’t conceive.

According to Halperin, the adaptation, which will be executive produced and written by Bruce Miller (The 100, Medium, ER), “will be made by MGM TV and will air on Hulu, where it received a straight-to-series order.”

In a press release quoted by Halperin, Atwood, a consultant on the series, said that “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.”

The Handmaid’s Tale is an adolescent touchstone for many, but Slate’s Matthew Dessem reminds us that the novel was also adapted for film by Harold Pinter and Volker Schlöndorff in 1990 (starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, and Robert Duvall!), and has also “been made into a radio drama, a play, an opera, a ballet, and a one-woman stage show.” Dessem writes, partly tongue-in-cheek: “Something about a story in which Christian fundamentalists use the threat of Islamic terrorism to consolidate power and control women’s bodies seems to resonate, for some reason.” And that must mean it’s ripe for television.



Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.