(March 28, 2017 – Toronto, ON) The flyleaf on the 1985 novel published by McClelland and Stewart stated directly that this new book from renowned writer Margaret Atwood would be different. “The Handmaid’s Tale is a radical departure” it said. It wasn’t just another superb work of fiction, but the “radical departure” was that this novel was set in the future. A future that was dark, frightening, and oddly all too near. The book went on to win the inaugural Arthur C Clarke award in 1987, but Atwood has consistently maintained that The Handmaid’s Tale is not classifiable as science fiction. Now, 32 years later, the book comes to the small screen in a 10-episode series starring Elisabeth Moss (pictured) as Offred.
If you’re unfamiliar with the book the basic plot is set in a totalitarian society called Gilead, which was once part of the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birth rate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state. As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred is a Handmaid, one of the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world. In this terrifying society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred navigates between Commanders, their cruel Wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids with one goal: to survive and find the daughter that was taken from her. Atwood is a consulting producer for the series that was shot in and around Toronto.
Costars include Joseph Fiennes (American Horror Story: Asylum, Shakespeare In Love) as Commander Waterford, Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black) as Moira, Max Minghella (The Mindy Project) as Nick, Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck, Dexter) as the Commander’s wife Serena Joy, O.T. Fagbenle (The Five) as Luke, Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) as Ofglen, Madeline Brewer (Orange is the New Black) as Janine, and Ann Dowd (Compliance, The Leftovers) as Aunt Lydia.
The series will be broadcast by Bravo, a Bell Media channel. “We’re proud to be the exclusive Canadian home of The Handmaid’s Tale, a landmark series that seems more timely now than ever,” said Mike Cosentino, Senior Vice-President, Content and Programming, Bell Media. “The series will anchor Bravo’s truly big spring schedule and guarantees to be appointment television.”
The Handmaid’s Tale is produced by MGM Television and internationally distributed by MGM. “Bravo is a fantastic broadcast partner for The Handmaid’s Tale,” said John Bryan, President, Domestic Television Distribution, MGM Television. “We have worked together on several occasions and have every confidence that they will build a strong audience for the show, which is based on the work of the beloved Canadian author Margaret Atwood.”
The 10-episode first season will begin with a special two-hour premiere event on Sunday, April 30 from 9 to 11PM. The series will continue on subsequent Sundays with the rest of the one hour episodes.
If the setting and story has certain echoes of what’s been happening south of the border since the rise of Donald Trump, Margaret Atwood recently penned a poignant piece for the New York Times, on “What The Handmaid’s Tale means in the age of Trump.”
The Handmaid’s Tale is created, executive produced and written by Bruce Miller and executive produced by Warren Littlefield (Fargo), Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, Ilene Chaiken, Take 5’s Sheila Hockin, John Weber, and Whizbang’s Frank Siracusa. Reed Morano (Meadowland) directed and executive produced the first three episodes.