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Atwood’s "The Handmaid’s Tale" is Coming to Hulu – But Will the Author Be Able to See It?

the handmaids tale Deadline Hollywood reports that Hulu has ordered a full season of The Handmaid’s Tale, with Elizabeth Moss (West Wing, MadMen) attached to star.

It’s set to debut in 2017, and based on the summary this series will be an even looser adaptation than the 1990 movie:

Adapted from Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the dystopian Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly part of the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted religious fundamentalism that treats women as property of the state. As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, one of the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world. In this terrifying society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred navigates between Commanders, their cruel Wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids – where anyone could be a spy for Gilead — all with one goal: to survive and find the daughter that was taken from her.

There’s no word on how many episodes are planned, but from the escription Hulu could be planning to expand this book into several season’s worth of tv.

Of course, that brings up the question: Will the author be able to see it?

Margaret Atwood is Canadian, and as a resident of Toronto she cannot subscribe to Hulu. It’s a US-only service. That means that unless Hulu bought and decides to resell the Canadian rights, or if the production company sells them separately, the author won’t be able to see her work on screen.

Instead she will have to either pirate the work or wait for someone to circumvent the geo-restriction by smuggling the DVD boxed set across the border.

In 2016.

In Canada.

Crazy, isn’t it?


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Steve Vernon May 1, 2016 um 5:56 am

We don’t get a proper version of Netflix up here, either – but our beer truly rocks. 🙂

Fjtorres May 1, 2016 um 6:57 am

Well, you do know *why* Hulu, Prime, and other "cultural products" don’t travel north, right?

And Atwood can’t really complain because she has benefited from her government’s "largesse" in that area. Governments give and governments take back. And what they give, they first took from somebody else. It’s not as if governments are net producers of anything beyond, maybe, security.

Canadian laws maintain a very, very large balance of trade in cultural products in their companies' favor. Mostly by limiting imports and subsidizing exports. It keep Canadian actors employed and LIFETIME and HALLMARK (among other cable services) and the CW well-stocked with original content.

As there is no shortage of demand for American content the squeeze doesn’t hurt American companies and it actually benefits American consumers who get to see loads of stuff that would never get made at Hollywood payscales.

They have their social contract and we have ours.
If Canadians cared enough, they could change it.
They don’t so their acquiescence implies consent.

To each their own.
It’s not that big a deal.

Nate Hoffelder May 1, 2016 um 7:20 am

"It keep Canadian actors employed"

Indeed. I like to joke that SF shows are Canada’s third largest export following the letter "ay" and maple syrup.

In fact, this show will likely be produced in Canada.

poiboy May 1, 2016 um 1:47 pm

it’s "eh". LOL

DebbyS May 1, 2016 um 9:24 am

So as part of the contract, Hulu puts episodes on thumb drives or burns to DVDs and mails them to her, just like she probably gets copies of her books from her publisher. Would that be too easy and therefore maybe illegal? Don’t know

Anthony May 1, 2016 um 12:24 pm

Well, Canada’s in the same region as the US ("region 1"), so I guess she could order the show on DVD from Amazon/buy it at a store when the box set comes out…um, months after it’s on Hulu?

Tony May 2, 2016 um 12:46 am

In fact, Hulu does license at least some of its original programming in Canada; "11/22/63" aired on cable on "Super Channel" and season 4 of "The Mindy Project" is currently being broadcast on the "City TV" network.

Similarly, Amazon licenses some of its programming to "Shomi" (a Canadian streaming competitor to Netflix), since Amazon Prime streaming is not available here.

Having said that, there’s no guarantee that "The Handmaid’s Tale" will ever end up in Canada. 🙁

Nate Hoffelder May 2, 2016 um 4:27 pm

Thanks for the info on licensing. I did not find any when I was working on this post.

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