When is The Handmaid’s Tale season three released in the US and UK? Who’s in the cast, and what’s going to happen?

Hulu's Golden Globe and Emmy-winning adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel returns for a third season

Handmaid's Tale season 3 trailer screenshot

The resistance is rising in The Handmaid’s Tale season three, and Offred/June (Elisabeth Moss) is beginning to stir a revolution in Gilead.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the return of the dystopian drama, airing on Hulu in the USA and Channel 4 in the UK.

When is The Handmaid’s Tale on TV?

The Handmaid’s Tale began on Channel 4 on Sunday 9th June 2019, and continues on Sundays at 9pm.

The show lauched in the US on Hulu on Wednesday 5th June 2019.

Watch the trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale season three

What’s going to happen in The Handmaid’s Tale season three?

While season two appeared to be building up to Offred/June’s escape from the republic of Gilead into Canada, in the end she decided to stay behind in order to find her daughter Hannah, entrusting her infant baby Nicole to fellow handmaid Ofglen/Emily instead.

“Heresy, that’s what you get punished for,” June says in the trailer above. “Not for being part of the resistance, because officially, there is no resistance. Not for helping people escape, because officially, there’s no such thing as escape.”

“If I’m going to change things, I’m going to need allies,” she adds. “Allies with power.”

Serena Waterford, wife to Commander Fred, gave up Nicole in the season two finale in an act of defiance against Gilead, and in the new season trailer is seen teaming up with June and apparently spying on her husband’s official meetings.

We see the return of June’s former lover Nick, while Emily and Nicole’s perilous journey appears to have paid off, as we see a shot of June’s husband Luke holding Nicole during a rally in Canada.

Our review of The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 opening episode

Praise be. While The Handmaid’s Tale season two was perhaps best defined by its unrelenting bleakness, it now seems that the series showrunners have heeded fan criticism. The first episode of season three is still full of darkness — quite literally, two-thirds is set over the course of a single night — with scenes featuring destruction and physical torture. However, it has something that the desolate season two lacked completely: hope.

There are several moments that stray into fist-pump territory: Serena takes a match to her life with Commander Fred; June readies herself for her role in the resistance; and, as we’ve already seen from the trailer, Emily escapes to Canada with baby Nicole. The show has always had a killer soundtrack, and this season’s opener doesn’t disappoint, featuring The Boomtown Rats’ upbeat (if nihilistic) I Don’t Like Mondays and Good Day by Greg Street ft Nappy Roots.

There are still a few narrative issues: for example, June’s underwhelming explanation as to why she opted to stay in Gilead at the end of season two (a decision that saw fans screaming at their screens in frustration) may spell problems for the series arc. Viewers also risk becoming desensitised to scenes inside Gilead, however upsetting or gruesome. But Emily’s move to Canada, where she must adjust to life as a rape and FGM survivor, will inevitably throw the handmaids’ lives into sharp relief, while also hopefully leading to a reunion with her wife and child.

Flora Carr

Who stars in The Handmaid Tale season three?

Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid's Tale

Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss plays Offred/June, a “handmaid” (one of a handful of still-fertile women living in Gilead) who endures state-sanctioned rape. She’s the mother of Hannah with her husband Luke, played by OT Fagbenle.

June’s old nemesis Serena Waterford is played by Yvonne Strahovski, while Commander Fred is played by Shakespeare in Love star Joseph Fiennes.

British actor Max Minghella (The Social Network) stars as Nick, while Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel has a scene-stealing turn as handmaid Ofglen/Emily.

We may also see or hear further celebrity cameos following Oprah Winfrey’s brief role in season two.

Where is The Handmaid’s Tale filmed?

Most of the series is filmed in Toronto, Canada, with Toronto City Hall featuring on numerous occasions.

Streets in Hamilton, Ontario, are also used and the wall which bodies hang from in the show is a real wall located in Cambridge in Ontario.

The house where the Waterfords live is filmed in Hamilton at the Grand Durand on Aberdeen Avenue and Coronation Park in Oakville was also a filming location for mass ceremonies.

Ironically, Toronto stands in for the fictional Gilead (a dystopian society which was formerly the USA) even though, as fans of the book and show will know, Toronto is actually where refugees escaped to from Gilead.

Quite a bit of series three is set and shot in Washington DC – a place in the show that represents “Gilead on steroids” – and The Handmaid’s Tale’s exec producer Warren Littlefield recently revealed that it was tricky to film there because of the government shutdown enforced by Donald Trump.

The Handmaid's Tale, Channel 4 press
The Handmaid’s Tale, Channel 4 press

“The government was shut down so we couldn’t shoot for a while,” Littlefield told The Wrap. “And then when the government reopened, we were issued a permit and we were working with government employees in uniform who were part of the Parks Department.

“And I wasn’t sure how we would be accepted, or if we would be accepted, because of who we are. And it was an amazing embrace. They knew exactly where we stood on human rights, on women’s rights, on what the show was about, and they welcomed us with open arms and gave us a great amount of gratitude in how we worked for our couple of days there.”

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One notable scene from series three shot in Washington features dozens of Handmaids standing in front of what should be the Lincoln Memorial, but actually appears in the show as a cross, instead.