A dystopian society in which women are second class citizens in The Handmaid’s Tale, and a demagogue cult leader in The Path: both Hulu series carry themes and tones which hit much closer to home in a divided America with a U.S. president known for his inflammatory rhetoric.
However, the second season of The Path, which debuted in January and airs its season finale on Wednesday, and The Handmaid’s Tale, premiering April 28, were both written before Donald Trump was sworn in.
Based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling 1985 novel of the same name, the dystopian drama series tells the story of life in a totalitarian America. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, the community of Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state.
EP Bruce Miller said throughout time, with each presidency, Atwood’s book was always “prescient.”
However, the showrunner adds, “We working on this project before the primaries even begun, and through the election, it just got stranger and stranger.”
“I’m not trying to tell a political story as an actor, but a human one through these experiences,” says Elisabeth Moss who plays the mother-turned-fertile concubine Offred in the Handmaid’s Tale. The character also brings to mind another of Moss’ female crusaders, that of Peggy Olson on the 1960s’ set Mad Men. Moss described playing femmes with gravitas as her “bread and butter”.
“I’m bored when I’m too happy. That was a huge draw to challenge myself and go to these darker places,” said the actress.
The Handmaid’s Tale came to Hulu from MGM Television and is created, executive produced and written by Miller, and executive produced by Warren Littlefield, Daniel Wilson and Fran Sears, and Ilene Chaiken. Reed Morano directed and executive produced the pilot and episodes 2 and 3. MGM serves as the international distributor for the series.
The Path creator and EP Jessica Goldberg spawned season after weathering a divorce and the loss of a parent. Season 2 focuses on how Aaron Paul’s Eddie Lane begins to have doubts about the Meyerist movement he has joined and raised a family within. “Season 2 was written before the nation was divided,” said Goldberg. However, the creator is curious how our current society will play into future episodes. “It will be interesting to see what we can pull out of what’s happening in the world as the show moves forward. A lot of the cults in our country came out of the 1960s counter-culture movement.”
“How people follow leaders — it’s already in the fabric of the show,” adds Goldberg.