Given that Season 1 of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale ends where Margaret Atwood’s novel does, audiences might be a little skeptical going into Season 2 (I was such an individual). However, after seeing six episodes of the sophomore season, I think it’s safe to say two things. One—Praise be!—there will be more Emmy nominations. Two, this season could be even better than the first (if it continues the quality of the first half of the new season).
Flashbacks, Unwomen, and Marisa Tomei
Season 2 picks up right where Season 1 left off, and without spoiling anything, really puts you through the ringer emotionally, especially in the first episode. Tonally, the season matches the first, except for the second episode, which veers a little too much into Orange is the New Black flashback territory, feeling more like an Emmy victory lap for Alexis Bledel (who won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series last year) than adding anything further to the overall story.
The season also has some unforgettable images, especially surrounding Boston landmarks. Most fans remark that Boston and Massachusetts are the perfect settings for this series, given the Salem witch trials, but it’s also an interesting juxtaposition with Boston, “America’s College Town,” being known for its educational institutions. Now the smartest women in the country aren’t even allowed to read.
While the setting hints at this subtle adjacency, some themes are less understated. The first season hit the pop culture jackpot, released shortly after the Women’s March on Washington and filmed even before Trump became president. The second season, however, is very aware of where it exists outside of Gilead and can sometimes come off as a tad preachy.
Elisabeth Moss most definitely will repeat an Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series nomination (and possibly a win), along with Ann Dowd in the Supporting Actress category, and it would not surprise me if Marisa Tomei gets in for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. The toss-up is between Bledel and Samira Wiley—could one get in over the other in the Supporting category (Bledel is a series regular this season)? And if so, who? Personally, I believe Yvonne Strahovski’s Serena Joy has more going on in her episode than Bledel and Wiley’s characters in theirs, and I’d love to see her get some recognition. The series should repeat an Outstanding Drama Series nomination, and in terms of direction, “June” has some stunning shots. For writing, “Unwomen” could receive a nomination for its expansive storylines and how they all fit together.
Directing for a Drama Series
Writing for a Drama Series
Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Dowd)
Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Tomei)
Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More)
Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Bledel, Wiley, or Strahovski)