As one of any number of shows whose filming has been put on hold due to the coronavirus epidemic, Hulu has now confirmed that the fourth season of their adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, originally scheduled for release this autumn, will not air until 2021.
Per its lead Elisabeth Moss, who will be gracing the director’s chair during the fourth season, filming had barely started before production had to be halted, and they “didn’t get a lot in the can”.
Moss added “We were only two weeks in, so we actually have an entire season to shoot…we want to go back to work because families have people to support and rent they need to pay, but at the same time no human’s life is worth a TV show. We’re just trying to figure out how to do it safely for everybody.”
The Handmaid’s Tale has been one of Hulu’s best-regarded original productions, being the first show on a streaming service to win an Emmy for Outstanding Series – this being just one of eleven Emmys the show has won overall. And despite the hiatus, season four is unlikely to be its last, particularly given the 2019 release of Atwood’s book The Testaments, a sequel to the original, giving the show further source material to draw upon. Executive producer Warren Littlefield has previously stated “I can honestly say to you, we don’t have a definitive out…but I think we want to keep the bar high, and it would not be a bad thing to leave the audience wanting more and and and then we could ideally shift into The Testaments.”
By contrast, showrunner Bruce Miller does have an end in mind somewhere on the horizon, saying “I don’t like TV shows that dribble off or overstay their welcome. When we get to the end of Handmaid’s Tale, I want it to be a beautiful piece of fiction, like the book, that you put a little bow around and you can put it on your shelf next to the book, and that it feels like a story well told from beginning to end.” Still, he’s speaking in very much the future tense, and it doesn’t seem as if he sees this happening any time soon.
The fourth season’s original autumn release date had already been something of a delay, with the first three seasons having premiered in the spring and summer months. Moss had previously discussed this with Digital Spy, saying “Part of the reason why it’s taken a little bit longer, besides just timing, is that we are making it a bit of a bigger season this year. We’re really stretching the limits of our capabilities, production wise, and we’re on the move a lot…we’re not sitting in a studio between four walls very much, so it really is a bigger season.”
This news came alongside Hulu’s announcement that their shows “The Dropout”, starring Kate McKinnon, and “Nine Perfect Strangers,” with Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy, would also have their release dates pushed back to next year.
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