The first three episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” start streaming April 26 and are already receiving raves from critics. Based on 27 reviews, the show has a preliminary score on Metacritic of 93, making it the highest-rated new fiction program of the 2016-2017 Emmy cycle. The series adapts the classic 1985 book of the same name by Canadian Margaret Atwood. Millions of readers worldwide must have their own ideas about what the characters look like; find out how Hulu envisions them by clicking through our photo gallery above.
The bestselling and award-winning novel was previously adapted once for the screen, as a 1990 film scripted by Harold Pinter, directed by Volker Schlöndorff and starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Aidan Quinn and Robert Duvall. The film was poorly received by critics and failed to recoup its budget at the box office.
Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is set in the near-future dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society that was formerly the United States. Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men,” “Top of the Lake”) stars as Offred, a woman forced into sexual servitude because she is one of the few remaining fertile women. Her name denotes that she is the property of Commander Fred Waterford, played by Joseph Fiennes (“American Horror Story,” “Shakespeare in Love”). Yvonne Strahovski (“Dexter,” “Chuck”) plays his wife and Max Minghella (“The Mindy Project,” “The Social Network”) plays his driver.
Other handmaids are played by Samira Wiley (“You’re the Worst,” “Orange is the New Black”), Madeline Brewer (“Black Mirror,” “Orange is the New Black”) and Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”). Ann Dowd (“The Leftovers,” “Compliance”) plays the leader of the Red House, where she trains the handmaids as they wear their distinctive red dress uniforms. O-T Fagbenle (“Looking,” “I Could Never Be Your Woman”) rounds out the nine-member main cast as Offred’s husband.
Hulu will release the first three episodes of the 10-episode first season on April 26. A single episode will stream each following Wednesday. Find the official descriptions for the debut episodes developed by showrunner Bruce Miller (“The 100,” “ER”) and directed by executive producer Reed Morano (“Looking,” “Frozen River”) below:
“Offred” (episode 1): Offred, one the few fertile women known as Handmaids in the oppressive Republic of Gilead, struggles to survive as a reproductive surrogate for a powerful Commander and his resentful wife.
“Birth” (episode 2): Offred and her fellow Handmaids assist with the delivery of Janine’s baby, prompting Offred to recall her own daughter’s birth. Offred draws closer to Ofglen while dreading a secret meeting with the Commander.
“Late” (episode 3): Offred visits Janine’s baby with Serena Joy and remembers the early days of the revolution before Gilead. Ofglen faces a difficult challenge.
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