In its first two seasons, The Handmaid’s Tale has undeniably made countless implicit references to sociopolitical conditions around the world—and author Margaret Atwood has specifically said that every dystopian plot point in both her original 1984 book and the Hulu adaptation was directly inspired by something that actually happened “somewhere at some time.” Beyond all these allusions to the seemingly unstoppable forces of misogyny, racism, and homophobia in the world today, however, the trailer for the show’s third season, which premiered during the 2019 Super Bowl, may contain its most explicit references to U.S. politics yet.
The new clip begins as a wistful look at life under the totalitarian regime of Gilead. There’s June (Elisabeth Moss) looking wistfully out a window, her husband, Luke, and daughter Hannah (O.T. Fagbenle and Jordana Blake) playing happily at the beach, and Yvonne Strahovski’s Serena Joy bringing her baby daughter to be baptized. “It’s morning again in America,” a man’s voice narrates. “Today, more women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history. This year, dozens of children will be born to happy and healthy families.”
As the voice repeats that “it’s morning again,” the images break down, reminding viewers that, contrary to the cheerful propaganda, June is currently a fugitive risking her life to be reunited with Hannah, who was forcibly taken from her and given a new name and family; that Serena Joy finally welcomed that daughter after standing by as her husband ritually raped June; and that those historically high numbers of women going to work in the sepia-toned fields of the Colonies are dying from their regular contact with nuclear waste. Further flashing clips hint at the handmaids’ continued revolution against the government: Most strikingly, a huge group of red-robed women stand in front of the Washington Monument—now, ominously, with an added piece to turn it from an obelisk into a cross—and appear to be facing a determined June on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
As if the series doesn’t already have enough eerie parallels to the modern day, the trailer is a clear riff on Ronald Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America” reelection campaign ad. That TV spot, too, showed cheerful-looking Americans going about their daily lives as a narrator recited optimistic lines about employment, interest, inflation, and marriage rates. “It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?” the narrator concluded, in a line that seems like something straight from Atwood’s pen.
See that ad—which came out, not so coincidentally, only a year before Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale—here.
Not much else has been revealed about the next season of the award-winning show. All main characters are expected to return, including Ann Dowd’s Aunt Lydia and Bradley Whitford’s morally ambiguous Commander Lawrence, and Christopher Meloni and Elizabeth Reaser were recently confirmed to be joining the cast as a married couple who befriend Serena Joy and Commander Waterford. Additionally, shortly after the second season wrapped, showrunner Bruce Miller told The Hollywood Reporter that the next season will show June “ready to fight” and “ready to take some chances and use all the skills she’s learned over the last three years that she’s developed in Gilead.”
Plus, only a few months after season three debuts—it’s “coming soon” and will likely premiere on Hulu in late April, as the previous two seasons did—Atwood will publish her long-awaited sequel to the 1985 novel, called The Testaments. “Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book,” she wrote in her November announcement. “The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”