Exclusive: Margaret Atwood's 'The Testaments' Series Won't Air Until 'The Handmaid's Tale' Ends [TCA 2020]

The Handmaid's Tale producer Warren Littlefield was at the Television Critics Association winter press tour for a Fargo season four panel. As Hulu and MGM recently acquired the rights to adapt author Margaret Atwood's recently published sequel The Testaments, we asked Littlefield if the two shows could run concurrently on Hulu, but it sounds like the sequel will actually follow the end of the other.The Handmaid's Tale was published in 1985, and The Testaments was just published last year. The sequel actually takes place 15 years after The Handmaid's Tale, and it doesn't require Elisabeth Moss to reprise her role as June. So it would potentially be feasible for Hulu to start a Testaments series while Handmaid's is still streaming, but that's not Littlefield's plan:

"I think we would transition from Handmaid's, and we're not there yet. In March we start year four. We would transition to it's 15 years later in The Testament. I think it would be a wonderful symmetry to conclude Handmaid's and then transition right in."

Littlefield's idea makes more sense. That's why he's Warren Littlefield, the former NBC executive responsible for classics like Seinfeld.

Atwood readers had to wait over 30 years for the sequel, so it shouldn't be a problem to wait until after The Handmaid's Tale is over to see it turned into a TV show. Hulu viewers can binge one right into the other. Besides, jumping into The Testaments could oversaturate Hulu with the Gilead universe and it's unnecessary.

For those unaware, The Handmaid's Tale is set in a dystopian future called Gilead. Gilead used to be the United States of America until a totalitarian dictatorship took over. In this future, fertility became rare so Gilead rounds up the still fertile women and forces them to procreate with commanders.

Those commanders give the handmaids, whom they dress in those iconic red robes with white hoods, names after themselves. So Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), renames June Offred. Offred led a handmaid's revolt and helped other handmaid's escape, but she stayed behind to fight against the oppression of Gilead.

As for the sequel, here's the official synopsis:

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia.  Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.

The Handmaid's Tale became not only a streaming and Emmy phenomenon, but it inspired real life protests. Women dressed as handmaids have protested the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh, the Alabama abortion bill and other policies that threaten women.

The fourth season of The Handmaid's Tale will be a little shorter than usual, and it will arrive sometime in the fall.