When House of Cards first came to televisions, it completely changed the way a lot of people saw original programming. It had everything: Kevin Spacey, a tense political story-line, and an effective method of dividing people by breaking down the fourth wall (poor puppy). The show explored the personal lives of those in power, offering a glimpse into the dystopian, behind-the-scenes world of power in politics. And people couldn’t get enough.
In that vein, The Handmaid’s Tale (Sundays at 9 p.m. on Bravo) is going to be just as big, if not bigger, establishing U.S. streaming service Hulu as a real player in the original production space. Like its groundbreaking predecessor, the new series will dig deep into dark themes in politics and society, showcasing a seamy underbelly of a polished, “better” surface.
It’s going to be big. Like, really, truly big.
1. It’s based on an award-winning novel
You’d have to be living under a rock not to know by now that The Handmaid’s Tale was first conceived, and executed, as a book by the prolific (and maybe prophetic) Canadian author Margaret Atwood. More than three decades and a film later, now seems like a particularly to finally dig deeper into her fictional world of Gilead.
2. The show stars a pretty amazing actor
Perhaps you’ve heard of a certain actor who goes by the name of Elisabeth Moss? That’s right, the woman who went toe-to-toe with Jon Hamm and won so many scenes in Mad Men (not to mention broke our hearts in Top of the Lake) is headlining this project as leading lady Offred, and she’s ah-ma-zing.
3. The supporting cast is top notch
Let’s just throw a few names out there, shall we? Alexis Bledel. Samira Wiley. Joseph Fiennes. Yvonne Strahovski. Amanda Brugel. Madeline Brewer.
Yup — this is the project that unites Rory Gilmore, Orange is the New Black‘s Poussey and Tricia Miller, the white guy who played Michael Jackson, the cop who saved the kid in Room and the hot girl from Chuck. Even better? They’re all perfectly cast in their roles. We promise.
4. It’s timely as heck
There’s a lot of crap going on in the world, stuff that Margaret Atwood clearly couldn’t predict when she wrote this book 30-plus years ago. But everything she did originally imagine that happens in Gilead was actually happening in some part of the world when she wrote it, and now the writers are expanding on that theme. So no, this show isn’t anti-Donald Trump as some have claimed, but it sure does shine a light on the importance of having a voice and not just being a passive bystander.
5. The writers are taking it deeper
So you’ve read or even studied the book and think you know this story inside out? You totally don’t. Whereas the book was open-ended and left readers on something of a cliffhanger, this series promises to keep going long after the original source material runs out. And judging by some of the departures we’ve already seen, we think it’s going to be a really crazy ride.
6. There’s already talk of a second season
When we spoke with showrunner Bruce Miller on the set (the show filmed in Toronto, of all places), he told us that he definitely pictures this story continuing beyond the initial 10 episodes. How? Well we don’t want to give anything away, but this series goes more in-depth in terms of the relationship between Offred and her daughter, Hannah, who was ripped away from her in the story when the States first fell. Add in all of the pre-show buzz, and we’d be shocked if we didn’t hear about a season-two announcement in the next week or so.
7. There’ a top-notch cast behind-the-scene too
You may not have heard the names Julie Berghoff or Ane Crabtree before, but the production designer and costume designer are some of the industry’s best. Berghoff has given us creepy sets like the ones featured in the original Saw and The Conjuring movies, and was also responsible for bringing Olive Kitteridge to life on HBO. Crabtree, meanwhile, created the original look for The Sopranos, has fitted the likes of Dustin Hoffman and designed the breathtaking costumes for shows like Westworld and Masters of Sex.
8. This show will make you think
Okay so if you’re the type of person who wants to watch a TV show to escape from all of the terrible things in the world, then this series might not be for you. But if you like dramas with really compelling story-lines, great acting and a touch of humour even in the darkest of situations, you’re truly going to love this show. And we promise you’ll walk away from it thinking a little harder about the world, and how humans can do some of the awful things they do.
9. Above all, you’ll have a sense of hope
We don’t want to make this sound like a tale of doom and gloom, because that’s not what The Handmaid’s Tale is all about. Sure, the world of Gilead has placed plenty of women — and men — in truly terrible situations. But by the same token it’s a story about the resilience of the human spirit, and what we can endure and overcome when we need to. That’s the true magic of The Handmaid’s Tale, and why we totally can’t wait for this show to premiere already.
10. It represents almost everybody
This is a show that takes place in an imagined present day — not the future and not the past. And so it was important for the creatives to ensure that the casting and story lines reflected that. As such the characters are pretty rich and diverse in terms of ethnicity and sexuality. And while we can always do better, we think this show has made some great strides in terms of all-around representation — especially in the sexuality department.
11. It’s Margaret Atwood approved
Not only does Atwood have a cameo in the pilot episode (watch for a bit of a “physical” scene between her and Moss at the Red Centre) but she’s also on board as a consulting producer. According to her, that doesn’t mean too much other than the actual producers asking for her opinions every once in a while, but she’s seen the first few episodes of the show and she gives it her stamp of approval.
“What did you think of it?” she asked us when we spoke with her.
“It’s great,” we said.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought too,” she agreed.
Well if Atwood says it’s so, then it must be true.