Review: Season 2 of Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Season two of Hulu’s Emmy-winning ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ premieres April 25th, with two episodes available immediately, and then new episodes streaming each week.

Hulu has been in the original content game for several years, with some small successes along the way. But nothing proves that their content is working like a big Emmy win last year, the first season of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ based on the Margaret Atwood novel, bringing home the top prize against other big players like HBO, Netflix, and traditional cable and broadcast networks.  It was a timely show, despite the original content being written decades ago, that felt particularly poignant during an election year.

While the source material has now ended, even with Atwood’s continued consulting, season two is set to rely on its own legs, the second season is proving that given a strong base, a show like this has plenty of its own strength to run for several seasons. The first episode of season two is a dreadful reminder that despite the positive ending to the first season, just because one obstacle has been overcome, that more don’t remain for June. If the first season felt closed-in by its environment, season two expands out into the world, that the isolated feel to the community in season one was just that, siloed. But the horrors that the women endured were elsewhere as well, as the scale of Gilead’s totalitarianism is revealed in more detail.

The first season almost always left us with a sense of dread, and for anyone expecting season two to suddenly shift into greener pastures, you won’t find it here. But that’s OK. Aunt Lydia is back in the worst way, her continued torture of the handmaids shows that despite the season one revolt, she won’t be deterred. 

For anyone wondering if they should binge through season one of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to get caught up for season two’s premiere next week, good luck. The show is dense and dreadful, but the thoughtful display of characters and ideas make this show well worth it. In some sense, we’re glad Hulu doesn’t release the entire season at once, it would be too heavy to binge. Regardless, this is important television.

Editor’s note: This review is based on six episodes of season two.