Just a week after its premiere, the television adaptation of Margaret Atwood's classic dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale, has been renewed for a second season, it was announced on Wednesday.
The news is both unsurprising and intriguing. The series has enjoyed rave reviews since premiering April 26, and Hulu, the streaming service which broadcasts the series in the United States, claims it is their most-watched series ever. (The show airs on Bravo in Canada.) Yet the 10-part first season encompasses the whole of Atwood's 1985 novel, which is set in the near-future totalitarian theocracy of Gilead, where select women are forced to become "handmaids" to ruling families in the face of declining birth rates. This means that the second season – and any season after that – ventures into uncharted territory.
"The response we've seen to The Handmaid's Tale in just one week since its premiere has been absolutely incredible," said Craig Erwich, Hulu's head of content. "It has been an honour to work with this talented team of cast and creators to develop a series that has struck such a chord with audiences across the country. As we continue to expand our strong slate of original programming, The Handmaid's Tale is exactly the type of gripping and thought-provoking storytelling we want to bring to viewers. We can't wait to explore the world of Gilead and continue Margaret's vision with another season on Hulu."
Season two is scheduled to air in 2018, though there's no word on who among the cast – which includes Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes and Alexis Bledel – will return.
Atwood, for her part, was pleased to hear the show was returning.
"The reaction to the series so far has been off the charts in a positive direction," wrote Atwood in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail. "Film/TV folks at the L.A. premiere said they had never seen anything like it. It is already off the charts for viewership as well, says Hulu.
"The fact that a second season is already being planned speaks to their enthusiasm," she added. "For me, it will be an interesting challenge, since I myself have never known what happened to Offred once she got into that van … except that she (or her recorded tapes) made it into a foot locker that was found in the former Bangor, Maine."
Earlier in the morning, Toronto-based Atwood, who declined to answer whether she'd be writing or contributing ideas to the upcoming season, teased the question of what's to come on Twitter.
"People have been asking me for 30 odd years (and they have been odd) what happens to Offred after the end of the book," she wrote. "Let's find out!"
With files from John Doyle