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A Tribute to 'The Handmaid's Tale' As it Announces its Sixth and Final Season

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> A Tribute to 'The Handmaid's Tale' As it Announces its Sixth and Final Season

Some bittersweet news arrived today, announcing the renewal of the sixth and final season of 'The Handmaid's Tale.' It was a moment of grief for the many fans who have followed the show since the beginning. The showrunner, Bruce Miller made the following statement in a press release:

'It has been a true honor to tell the story of Margaret Atwood's groundbreaking novel and chillingly relevant world, and we are thrilled to bring viewers a sixth and final season of The Handmaid's Tale. We are grateful to Hulu and MGM for allowing us to tell this story, which unfortunately has remained as relevant as ever throughout its run, and are in awe of our incredible fans for their unwavering support, and without whom we never would have gotten to this point.'

Courtesy of Hulu

The Show Has Made Many Achievements Over the Years

When 'The Handmaid's Tale' was released in 2017, Hulu was barely starting its journey into original programming. The streamer had long focused on purchasing rights to preexisting work, and they were looking to make a name for themselves. 'The Handmaid's Tale' was the flagship they needed. The show was an immediate hit, achieving almost universal acclaim. It's since won more than a dozen Primetime Emmys, a winning streak that has kept on even as the show has aged. 

Fans loved the adaptation, and they've remained loyal to it over the years. The season 4 premiere was the most watched of any original television show or movie in Hulu's history, clocking more than a million viewers. That doesn't even begin to encompass piracy and other channels, which make up a significant portion of the show's viewership. For a performance featuring profound themes and gut-wrenching torture, that's saying something.

Courtesy of Hulu

We Won't Forget the Show's Legacy

Over the past five years, groups of handmaids have gathered wherever women's rights were threatened. We saw them in New York and Washington DC during the early years of the Trump presidency. We saw them throughout the country when states began making laws taking away reproductive rights. Now we see them standing at the base of the steps of the Supreme Court after Roe v. Wade was struck down.

Bernt Sønvisen / Flickr

The original novel hearkens back to a classic theme in science fiction. It was Margaret Atwood's way of telling us that dictators and totalitarian governments could rise up, even in modern America. It could happen at any time, and we would be like frogs boiling in a pot of water. We wouldn't even notice until it was too late. The show has allowed that message to assimilate into our collective consciousness, giving us something tangible--a red cloak and white wings--to cling to so we don't forget. Even George Orwell, the author of the dystopian classic 1984, with his wide-reaching audience and presence in classrooms across the world, couldn't burn that message into our brains the way Elizabeth Moss and Margaret Atwood did. We'll remember Big Brother, but June will be forefront on our minds.

Courtesy of Hulu

For many, 'The Handmaid's Tale' Stayed Relevant

Joseph Fiennes, who played Commander Fred Waterford, often talks about a chilling exchange between Fred and June in Fred's office regarding the establishment of the theocracy. He tells her that they only wanted to make the world a better place. June is shocked. 'Better?' she asks. His reply is one of the most memorable lines in the franchise. 'Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse for some.'

The scene from the season one episode 'Faithful' made a huge impression on fans. Fred is talking about inequality and privilege, standing in a Victorian home while terrifying his slave. But what's even more chilling is that the actor, Joseph Fiennes, had just found out about the results of the 2016 election when they filmed the scene. He said it added to the relevance, making it even more difficult to play the part. Indeed, the entire tone on the set changed that day. The actors all talked about how things seemed to get real when that happened.

Courtesy of Hulu

Not everything that happened in the show was relevant to current events. But the show's premiere did mark the beginning of a very tumultuous time in American politics. When the public could see fighting in the streets in real life and Gilead shooting at peaceful protesters on TV, it started to get easier to draw parallels.

Courtesy of Hulu

We saw conservatives storm the capitol on January 6, targeting members of congress. This was two years after 'The Handmaid's Tale' detailed a similar attack. Then we watched Fred holding prayer fests at the Washington Memorial. At a certain point, it was too close to home. The fandom became a place for discourse, discussing shared values, and how to fight back. Fans didn't just gain a particular perspective or learn something like they did with most stories. They started looking for ways to preserve their rights. They shared voting forms. They passed out their congressmen's phone numbers. They organized protests, and they promised that they would weather the storm together. It was a theme in action, something most authors could barely hope to accomplish.

Courtesy of Hulu

How Will The Handmaid's Tale End?

For years, the original novel's open-ended conclusion hung like a black cloud over the franchise, taunting fans, and reminding them that they would never find out what happened to Offred. She disappeared before we even got a chance to learn her real name. That's why the show was such a dream come true. We could finally see what happened, and what we saw in those first moments of season two was an amazing, cathartic experience. It had many of us bawling our eyes out. Now fans have a chance for a real ending. We don't know what will come at the end of season six, but we know that in some way we'll be left with a sense of satisfaction.

Courtesy of Hulu

We're Not Leaving Gilead Behind Just Yet

The sixth season will not be the final chapter in the story of Gilead. While the show was in its early stages, Margaret Atwood threw the show's creators a curveball with a second book, called The Testaments. It's set several years after the events of 'The Handmaid's Tale,' and it follows the stories of Nichole, Hannah, and the indomitable Lydia Clements. Showrunner Bruce Miller has already talked extensively about how he is laying the groundwork for the new show, which should begin shortly after season six ends.

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