The Handmaid’s Tale Creator Reveals How Much The Testaments Is Factoring Into The Final Seasons

June in The Handmaid's Tale
(Image credit: Hulu)

Each streaming service has a few super popular original shows, and for many with a Hulu subscription, that’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The dystopian drama was created for TV by Bruce Miller, and based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name. Season 5 just wrapped up on Hulu, making way for the sixth and final season. But there’s also a spinoff in development, based on Atwood’s sequel novel. And Miller recently spoke to CinemaBlend about how much The Testaments are factoring into the final chapters of The Handmaid’s Tale (opens in new tab).

While we were in the midst of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, it was revealed that the upcoming sixth season would be the show’s last. This will seemingly allow the show’s leadership team the chance to craft a satisfying ending, while also potentially setting up the events of the spinoff The Testaments. I had the privilege of speaking with writer/creator Bruce Miller after the Season 5 finale aired, where I asked how much The Testaments is influencing the final two chapters of the Emmy-winning series. He opened up saying:

I’ve had a little longer to think about it than most people. Because Margaret started talking to be about the book, doing The Testaments early. I’ve been thinking about it a little longer; it isn’t so much a surprise about where my characters are going, they’ve been going there for a while. Two things. The first thing I have to remember is I want The Handmaid’s Tale to end well. It doesn’t matter, The Testaments have no bearing on that. It should be a great ending. It’s a show I’m really proud of, and I want to be proud of the last season. So I want it to be a solid season, well told. Anything beyond that is gravy.

This is a sentiment that is sure to be a relief for many fans of The Handmaid’s Tale who might be worried about exactly how the series is going to wrap up the story of Elisabeth Moss’ June Osbourne. It seems that Bruce Miller and company will first and foremost focus on crafting a satisfying ending to the flagship series, before trying to include ties to the spinoff. We’ll just have to wait and see what twists and turns they have prepared for us. 

Still, Bruce Miller does have his hand in two different shows right now, both of which are based on Margaret Atwood’s chilling universe from The Handmaid’s Tale. And as he mentioned, he was privy to the sequel novel’s contents early during his work. Later in our same conversation, he also highlighted the fact that the TV adaptation of both books will ultimately differ from the source material. As he put it,

And then at the same time, I’m breaking and figuring out The Testaments. And as much as possible I’m trying to keep them as separate things. People who have read The Handmaid’s Tale and read The Testaments know that The Testaments is a sequel to the book The Handmaid’s Tale. The Testaments TV show is going to be a sequel to the TV show The Handmaid’s Tale. They’re different, and they have to be different, and they have different characters. So I think they have to be adjacent, but not quite the same universe. Which gives me a lot of flexibility.

Points were made. Indeed, the main story of The Handmaid’s Tale novel ends basically after the events of the show’s first season. And as such, characters were changed, plot points were created, and Bruce Miller and company ultimately were able to make the universe their own.

Ann Dowd in The Handmaid's Tale Season 5

(Image credit: Hulu)

While fans of The Handmaid’s Tale are gearing up for the final season, there are many questions about the developing Testaments TV series. The book features three protagonists, none of whom are June. Instead, we follow Aunt Lydia, Agnes aka Hannah who grew up in Gilead, and Baby Nichole who grew up in Canada. Miller didn’t give me any inside information about the TV version of this story, but spoke about the discrepancies we should expect when compared to the source material. In his words,

I don’t necessarily need to lay in the groundwork for the way the character’s gonna be in The Testament. I can make other decisions. No one wants a Testaments that’s super accurate. You want one that is a good TV show. And that’s where we’ll start, trying to make it a good TV show.

Once again, it looks like Bruce Miller and the folks behind The Handmaid’s Tale are putting quality over quantity. And so they want to make a great TV show with The Testaments, regardless of what expectations might be following the project. But first we’ll have to see how June’s story is wrapped up in the original show’s sixth and final season on the air.

It’s currently unclear when The Handmaid’s Tale will return for Season 6, as the fifth season only recently wrapped up with the finale episode “Safe.” The stakes are certainly high, but it’s a comfort to know how much care is being taken with the final episodes. In the meantime, check out the TV premiere list to plan your next binge watch. After all, we’ll likely have to wait a while before new episodes arrive.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.