Unfortunately, there’s bad news for The Handmaid’s Tale fans eagerly awaiting the television version of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments — you’re going to have to be patient.
Handmaid’s producer Warren Littlefield was at the Television Critics Association winter press tour for a Fargo season 4 panel when he told Slashfilm, “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.”
In theory, as Elisabeth Moss’s Offred/June character is not in the sequel, the two shows could run concurrently — however, that is a lot of binging and it could be confusing to watch two Gilead timelines at once.
While having one show transition into the other makes sense, it’s going to be tough to wait. However, The Testaments book is set 15 years after Handmaid’s Tale in the theocratic regime of Gilead, which is rotting from within. The beginning of the end of the regime is narrated by three voices. One of the narrators grows up within Gilead. Another grows up across the border, somewhere that Atwood describes as "the place you escape to when things go pear-shaped in the United States, and that would be Canada.” The last voice gives us the perspective of a familiar and terrifying figure: Aunt Lydia.
At a press conference for the launch of the book, which won the Booker Prize in 2019, Atwood explained why she didn’t write a sequel for so many years.
"There had been many requests for a sequel which I had always said no to because I understood it meant that it would be a continuation of the narrative voice of Offred and The Handmaid’s Tale, and there was no way I could recreate that," Atwood explained. "However, as time moved on instead of moving further away from Gilead, we started moving towards it — particularly in the United States. I re-examined that position and decided that, although I could not continue with the story of Offred, I could continue with three other people concerned in these events and tell the story of the beginning of the end.
"Regimes fall apart when they can’t fulfill their promises," Atwood added.
The fourth season of Handmaid’s Tale is set for the fall of 2020. A fifth season has not been announced.