1. The Handmaid’s Tale
Conspicuously absent from the prestige TV Mt. Rushmore so far has been a show from Hulu, which was a little later to the original content game than its streaming peers. That all changed with The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian vision of what a religiously fanatical society could like in the not-too-distant future, particularly for women.
The show stars Elisabeth Moss, an alum of top-five prestige show ever, Mad Men. She’s already won one Emmy for portraying the down-but-never-quite-out Offred, and could quite possibly rack up another Emmy win in a few months. Even more impressively, the show won the 2017 Best Drama Emmy, marking the first time a streaming show has taken home television’s highest honor.
The Handmaid’s Tale has already become famous for two things:
- Being everyone’s favorite “OMG WE’RE SO CLOSE TO ACTUALLY LIVING THIS“ pop culture reference
- Being so mindbogglingly dark at times that it sometimes justifies those sensationalist proclamations.
Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale was objectively good, but also could cynically be viewed as one giant tease where Offred continued to be mercilessly tortured, not just by her Gilead captors but by the confines of the show’s narrative structure. Every time the hope of escape was dangled in front of her, it was inevitably snatched away.
If the show continues to lean into the darkness of its world, it is in grave danger of becoming a parody of what the average viewer expects from a “prestige TV” experience. But as it stands, The Handmaid’s Tale is both Hulu’s golden goose and just the latest example of a show that exemplifies the best and worst of modern prestige TV.