Hulu Picks Up 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2, 'Marvel's Runaways,' And 'The First'

Hulu will keep its original content flowing, with pick-ups announced for a second season of the harrowing dystopian drama The Handmaid's Tale as well as new series orders for Marvel's Runaways from the creators of the Gossip Girl, and Beau Willimon's show about the first human mission to Mars, tentatively titled The First.

Hulu announced these series pick-ups at its upfront session in New York, the television industry's annual gathering in which networks pitch upcoming shows to advertisers and, by proxy, announce them to the rest of the world.

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale Renewed for Season 2

With The Handmaid's Tale renewed for a second season, it all but guarantees that the series will go beyond the scope of Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel. While the book ended on a cryptic note, the series will most likely go into the details of the world of Gilead, as well as the Resistance that has risen up against it. The show, created by Bruce Miller, delves into the rise of a modern, democratic government and the installation of the totalitarian authority that enslaves women and turns them into breeding stock. Perhaps a second season could explore how — and if — Offred (Elizabeth Moss) escapes from her plight and if she gets involved with the Resistance.

Meanwhile, Moss's Offred — who was a somewhat passive observer in the book — has already taken on a more active role against her oppressors. Moss has confirmed that she's signed a five-to-seven year contract for the show, which would be a hell of a long time to spend with a show already so distressing and soul-crushing even in its first three episodes (read my review of its chilling political parallels here).

New Series Marvel's The Runaways and Beau Willimon's The First Picked Up

Hulu has expanded their original series to genre television, with the superhero show Marvel's The Runaways and a science-fiction series from House of Cards creator Beau Willimon.

Marvel's The Runaways will supposedly have a more teen-soap bent than previous superhero shows, coming from Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. Based on the comics by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian AlphonaThe Runaways follows a group of six diverse misfit teenagers who unite against a common foe: their parents. No mention of their superpowers yet, though the descriptions of the lead characters ("a loud-and-proud nerd," "a purple-haired, riot grrrl," "a high school heartthrob") seem like a who's-who of Breakfast Club archetypes.

A short teaser was shown at the upfront, which featured the group of Runaways discovering a secret passage in one of their parents' luxurious houses, and finding "some Narnia shit": their parents conducting some sort of cult ritual, literally living up to the title of "evil parents."

Meanwhile Willimon will be executive producing The First (working title), which explores the challenges of taking the first steps toward interplanetary colonization in the near future. Willimon said at the upfront, according to Deadline:

"It's a story about the human spirit. About our indomitable need to reach for unknown horizons. About people working toward the greatest pioneering achievement in human history. And about the cost of that vision, the danger and sacrifice – emotional, psychological, and physical – that's required to achieve it. How ordinary, imperfect people band together and overcome a myriad of obstacles to grasp the extraordinary."

Streaming Deals: Hulu Acquires Rights to This Is Us and Atlanta

In a massive SVOD deal, Hulu acquired the rights to the insanely popular NBC drama This Is Us. It's said to be a record-breaking deal, according to the Hollywood Reporter, with Hulu beating out Netflix and Amazon Prime for the rights. Hulu and NBC will share stacking rights so that the series is available on both the streamer as well as the network's apps and platform. The deal is the first of its kind.

Donald Glover's FX comedy Atlanta will stream exclusively on Hulu, it was also announced. The Golden Globe-winning series offered a genuine and cinematically stunning look at rappers in the titular city, merging a Twin Peaks-style surrealism with issues of race. "The series comes to Hulu via a multiyear output deal with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution that was announced in 2014," the Hollywood Reporter said.