Ad Meter 2019: Hulu previews the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Season 3 of Hulu hit “The Handmaid’s Tale” won’t be quite as depressing as Seasons 1 and 2. The writers swear.
The Emmy-winning drama, which stars Elisabeth Moss and portrays a dystopian version of the U.S. known as Gilead, has become infamous for its somber tone and melancholy plots. But Season 3, teased Sunday in a Super Bowl commercial that alludes to Ronald Reagan’s iconic 1984 “Morning in America” campaign ad, has a bit more fight in it. And maybe even some hope.
USA TODAY spoke exclusively with “Handmaid’s” executive producer Warren Littlefield, who works closely with creator Bruce Miller, to reveal some key details from the new season, in which June (Moss) fights back against Gilead’s totalitarian theocracy from the inside. The theme of the new season, he says, is “blessed be the fight,” and it strikes a tone that, if not outright sunny, is at least a little lighter than seasons past.
Other important things to know about Season 3, due later this year.
We’re going to meet the center of Gilead power in Washington, D.C.
As the Super Bowl spot shows, the new season moves from the Boston area to the nation’s capital, which looks a little different under Gilead’s regime (the Washington monument is now a giant cross). But the city remains the center of political power in Gilead.
“There are bigger players, (and) Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) is not the biggest fish in that pond,” Littlefield says. “It’s a little bit of Gilead on steroids.”
Season 3 picks up 10 minutes after the Season 2 finale
If you were wondering exactly what June would do after giving her baby to Emily (Alexis Bledel) and choosing to remain in Gilead instead of escaping to Canada, you’ll see the immediate consequences. Littlefield confirms that Season 3 picks up only 10 minutes or so after the Season 2 finale.
June’s decision to part with her baby becomes a major plot point in Season 3, Littlefield says. “We’ll also pick up with Serena Joy and where is she, what happens to her with the knowledge that Nicole, who she considers her baby, has gone off to Canada, but not with June,” he says. “And so that has really far-reaching ramifications, and Nicole becomes a multinational (interest). Everybody wants Nicole. And the question is who legally and morally presides over that.”
Aunt Lydia is getting the flashback treatment she deserves
Fans asked, and the “Handmaid’s” writers have delivered: Season 3 is when we see what turned Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) into the Gilead collaborator she is.
“A lot of our fans have asked for this for awhile, and we’re really happy that midway through the season we get to share some of Aunt Lydia’s backstory,” Littlefield says. “And we begin the understanding of who she was before she wore that horribly brown drab outfit and carried her cattle prod.”
Gilead’s philosophy is leaking across the border
Although getting out of the (former) United States suggested Moira (Samira Wiley), Luke (O.T. Fagbenle) and others would find a safe haven, the specter of the Gilead is still chasing them.
“What we’re seeing is that some of the philosophy and strains of Gilead are even bleeding up into Canada,” Littlefield says. Moira and Luke activating their own fight against that ideology “becomes a really important part of our story.”
There is a light at the end of the bleak tunnel
“I think there are a lot more rays of hope in the battle that we’ll be feeling and experiencing in Season 3,” Littlefield says.
“We’ve just been through the (midterm) elections, and that seemed to be a call for change, for sanity, if you will, in an insane world that had lost values and perspective. I’d like to think that June’s efforts and her thrust in this season absolutely tie in – against some overwhelming (odds) there is a sense of purpose and a sense of light in that tunnel. … I think you’ll feel that alignment with a renewed sense of purpose that we’re feeling here in America.”
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