Hulu is preparing a glimpse into a dystopian America with its first teaser trailer for its original series The Handmaid’s Tale. The teaser also gives us an official premiere date of April 26, 2017.
“I had another name, but it’s forbidden now,” says Elisabeth Moss’s character Offred in voice-over. “So many things are forbidden now.”
So begins the teaser, which has a number of horrifying visuals to grab the viewer’s attention. Among them is an image of a woman in a red coat carrying a basket staring at a sewer wall that appears to be covered in blood. There is also the image of Alexis Bledel being dragged away with a mask over her mouth and horror in her eyes.
Bledel will be playing Offred’s assigned companion Ofglen, while the teaser also provides a glimpse of Orange is the New Black star Samira Wiley as Moira, Offred’s friend.
Hulu’s teaser trailer does a good job at selling the series, which is based on the award-winning speculative fiction novel by Margaret Atwood. The setting is the Republic of Gilead, a theocratic government that has overthrown the old United States government. Women under this new regime have no rights; the “handmaids” of the title are a class of women kept strictly for the purposes of reproduction.
Women aren’t even allowed to have their own names. Moss’s character is technically “Of-Fred,” emphasizing her lack of an independent identity. Nonetheless, Offred discovers a certain sense of freedom within this oppressive world.
Hulu premiered the teaser the same day that the show came to the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Entertainment Weekly reports that Handmaid’s Tale executive producer Bruce Miller and the cast of the show all agree that the story remains relevant even today.
“The book’s been around for 35 years and every time someone reads it, they say, ‘Wow, this is timely,'” Miller said.
Elisabeth Moss commented on the common element in every aspect of The Handmaid’s Tale: power. She explains how Offred discovers how to use her sexuality to gain power instead of leaning away from it.
In an earlier discussion with Entertainment Weekly, when the first teaser photos were released, Moss, who is also a producer on the series, discussed how taking the job on The Handmaid’s Tale“makes me want to work harder,” despite being one of the toughest jobs she’s ever taken.
Miller insists that the Hulu show will remain mostly faithful to the book, though there is one significant change that has stood out: casting Samira Wiley as a handmaid.
This change is significant because in the original Handmaid’s Tale novel, racial minorities were sent away from Gilead, situated in New England, to “National Homelands” in the Midwest.
Miller spoke with TVLine about this switch. While some of his comments dip into the general discussion of adapting something from one medium to another (in this case, books to television), he also spoke directly about the more complex systemic factors involved.
“What’s the difference between making a TV show about racists and making a racist TV show?” he said, referring to the fact that the book The Handmaid’s Tale focuses on Offred and the other white women in Gilead instead of following the narrative of the minorities in the Midwest.
Miller also discusses the integration of the evangelical faith movements in recent years and that, given Gilead’s dire fertility situation due to pollution and sexually-transmitted diseases, the issue of procreating was the most important aspect of the novel to emphasize.
If the first season of the Hulu series is a success, though, there is plenty of room for the producers to explore the trials and tribulations of the minorities in the Midwest, provided that detail is somehow retained in the show. It’s certainly something for book purists to discuss when the series finally arrives.
The rest of the changes are mostly minor, though Miller does say that the setting of Gilead provides ample opportunities for the Hulu series to run “forever,” according to Nerdist.
Finally, Variety noted comments by Handmaid’s Tale director and executive producer Reed Morano on the use of color in the series. The different social castes of women in the story are divided by the color of their garments. Morano says he used this detail to create a striking visual palette: amidst the greys and browns that are standard within dystopian or wartime fiction live the reds, blues, and greens of the women.
“We wanted to make a show that is exciting from a subject standpoint but really play with composition and graphic colors and make it a visual feast.” Morano said.
The teaser trailer is certainly a visual feast, and the series is shaping up to be another fine addition to the list of adaptations for the novel. Look for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale on the streaming service on April 26.
[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]