The Handmaid’s Tale premieres today on Hulu, based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. The novel—which has yet to go out of print since it premiered in the mid-1980s—has been several plays, a ballet, a movie and a radio serial, and launched to the top of Amazon’s Bestsellers List ahead of the TV adaptation. The emotionally and politically charged show is perfectly timed with public concern for women’s rights and political turmoil, especially within the US. For this reason, the show naturally lends itself as a conversation piece—one that Hulu has kept going across the country ahead of the show’s premiere.
Large groups of women in striking red and white garments have appeared across the country at events to silently promote the series, handing out cards that say, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” These handmaidens were seen at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on April 23 and prior to that at SXSW, New York City and many other locations. The cast and crew discussed The Handmaid’s Tale themes at length during the Tribeca Film Festival, setting the stage for a deadly serious, provocative TV experience.
— Tribeca (@Tribeca) April 22, 2017
The show follows Offred, an oppressed woman in a dystopian near-future in which women’s rights have been stripped. Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is the handmaid assigned to an elite Commander and his wife, and as such is subject to the strictest rules and constant scrutiny—living in constant fear of execution. Offred, so named because her master is named Fred, can remember the “time before” when she was married with a daughter and had her own name, but all she can safely do now is follow the rules of Gilead in hope that she can someday live free.
Audiences can take a 360-degree tour of Offred’s modest room on YouTube to get a sense of a handmaid’s drab life.
Fans were able to follow a livestream of the series’ red carpet premiere on Snapchat, and the official Twitter account has been abuzz with behind-the-scenes looks, interviews and teasers.
For writers, Hulu is hosting a contest on Wattpad in which 500-word short stories inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale will get a chance to be included in an anthology by Margaret Atwood.
A partnership with fashion collective, Vaquera has resulted in looks such as a red jacket emblazoned with “Maiden.” In June, the brand will host an experiential performance in New York, at an as-yet-undisclosed location, featuring the pieces from the collection.
The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale premiered April 26 with subsequent episodes added on a weekly basis. In Canada, the series will be broadcast by Bravo, beginning with the first two episodes premiering on April 30.