New trailer for 'The Handmaid's Tale' kicks off a year of Margaret Atwood viewing and we are really excited

First this then the six-hour miniseries adaptation of Alias Grace make for a good year of Canadian feminist storytelling.
(Credit: MGM Television/Hulu)

Hulu just released their official trailer for The Handmaid's Tale, a new episodic series that brings Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian sci-fi novel to life. And it looks fantastic and harrowing in equal parts.

The creepy show, which stars Mad Men alum Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes, depicts a dark future run by an extreme regime. How dark? Pollution has rendered most women barren, so all fertile women are stripped of their rights, rounded up and enslaved. Their task in the new world order is to lay with (code for institutionalized rape) and then carry the children of those in power to term. So, very dark. Still, the show's executive producer and creator, Bruce Miller, says "It is unquestionably a dark world, but it's not a dark show." The series, he says, is about "perspective and not losing the hope of getting your life back." Triumph of human will in the face of extreme adversity, to put it mildly.

As all good sci-fi does, the show promises to hold a mirror up to our current reality. In a promotional teaser, another of the show's stars, Samira Wiley, of Orange is The New Black fame, offered that the creep factor comes from the fragility of our current world order and some of its fundamental problems. "The show does well of showing us how this reality can occur… it seems far away but it also seems like it could be so close."   

The exciting series, shot in part in Toronto, as evidenced by the red-beamed CBC building in the trailer, is the second Margaret Atwood work slated to air on the small screen this year.

Sarah Polley's six-part mini-series, Alias Grace is an adaptation of Atwood's true-crime novel of the same name. It's also the first joint venture between the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Netflix, which is huge. Like a lot of Atwood's work, this proves to be dark and politically charged as well (ie "You fit into me/like hook into an eye/a fish hook/an open eye" to quote one of Atwood's more famous love poems). Based on the real-life 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Canada, the story, narrated by a fictional narrator, Dr Simon Jordan centres around the controversial convictions of two household servants, Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant, and James McDermott. McDermott was hanged and Marks spent 30 years incarcerated at Kingston Penitentiary before being absolved of the crime.

The production stars Sarah Gadon, Canadian-born Oscar-winning actress, Anna Paquin, and Canadian actor Paul Gross. It was announced in September that Canadian film director David Cronenberg will also be joining the cast and Margaret Atwood herself will make a cameo. It's a big win for Canadian talent and storytelling.

"After almost 20 years of dreaming of bringing Alias Grace to the screen, it is beyond thrilling to see it all come together with such an amazing cast and crew," said Polley, who is both Writer and Executive Producer of the series. If this is the beginning of more Atwood fiction being optioned for production, we're crossing our fingers for the MaddAddam trilogy. More dystopian futures to be sure, but endured always through community and love.