By now, it’s pretty much a guarantee that, whether or not you’ve read Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian near-future novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, you recognize the signature scarlet robes and shieldlike bonnets worn by its main characters—a sector of women whom America’s cruel theocracy has turned into enslaved concubines in response to a toxic environment and plague of infertility. Decades later, they’re suddenly omnipresent—the novel ended up back on the best-seller list after Hulu revealed the first trailer for its chilling TV adaptation during last year’s Super Bowl, in large part because the story seemed all too timely, with reproductive rights increasingly under threat and Donald Trump, whom more than a dozen women have accused of sexual misconduct, newly in office.
Starring Elisabeth Moss as Offred, serving her “commander” (Joseph Fiennes), with fellow handmaids played by Samira Wiley and Alexis Bledel, the series took off when it premiered last April—to the point where the robes and bonnets have been increasingly appearing IRL, far outside of Hulu’s questionable marketing campaign; wearing the ensemble has become a go-to means for protesters of issues like reproductive rights to guarantee their appearances are eye-catching in Senates and streets across America. With so much attention and interest, naturally, the next step would be for a season two—except that the story had pretty much reached where Atwood had left it off. Luckily, the 78-year-old author, who has been consulting the show’s crew of executive producers, including Moss herself, was game to write just a bit more.
Now, we’re finally getting a look at what she cooked up: No doubt to the delight of her commander and his wife, Offred is pregnant, but determined to do the impossible—not only keep her child but also somehow help it escape from the horrors of an America now known as Gilead. The first two episodes premiere on Wednesday, April 25, but in a nod to International Women’s Day, Hulu is giving a sneak peek with a new teaser—and a poster showing Offred with her bonnet in flames.
Less than a minute long, the video is a series of flashing images, which are enough to get the disquiet across. There’s a scarlet robe on fire; Offred clenching her fists and standing in front of a noose; the commander’s wife, played by Yvonne Strahovski, smacking a woman in the face; the silhouette of a man kneeling with a gun pointed at his head; and both Bledel and Wiley looking clearly distressed. All that’s soundtracked to Moss’s voiceover of phrases like “be a good girl” and “roll over and spread your legs.”
There’s no sign of Max Minghella, the commander’s hot driver with whom Offred daringly has a fling, nor O-T Fagbenle, her husband from the days when she could go by her real name, June, who was revealed to be alive and well in Canada at the end of last season. As for whether Offred and her child will also manage to escape to that dream destination, we’ll just have to stay tuned.
Margaret Atwood, Elisabeth Moss, and the Women of The Handmaid’s Tale
From left: Margaret Atwood, Elisabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley, Ann Dowd, Madeline Brewer, and Yvonne Strahovski.
Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale and consulting producer of its Hulu series.