In an attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic, television studios have halted production on a number of shows, including Netflix’s Stranger Things, which was just getting started on filming Season 4. Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale was also in the midst of filming its fourth season when production was suspended. With production on the back burner and no word on when filming will start back up again, The Handmaid’s Tale highly anticipated next season could see major delays.
Production on The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 began March 2 in Toronto. That seems like a lifetime ago now, though it's only been a few short weeks. Asked how far along they’d gotten with filming, series star O-T Fagbenle revealed that they “had just kind of cracked it open.” That means series was only just getting underway when production shut down on March 16. It’s possible the cast and crew hadn’t even finished filming the first episode of Season 4, so the delays could prove to be even longer than expected.
While Season 4 did not yet have an official premiere date, the series was due to premiere later this fall, with production scheduled to wrap in August. The series, which follows the story of June as she navigates the confines of Gilead’s brutal theocratic regime, has previously debuted in the spring or summer months. Now that the cast and crew have stopped filming altogether, it’s possible that Season 4 won’t premiere until early 2021, which is an optimistic time frame.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 left off on a cliffhanger that saw many of Gilead’s children successfully fleeing to Canada, thanks to June's ambitious plan. However, June was once again left behind, unable to get to the plane on time after opting to distract the soldiers to ensure safe passage for the kids. Injured, June is saved by the remaining handmaids, though her fate is up in the air at this point.
The Handmaid's Tale showrunner Bruce Miller previously revealed that Season 4 would consist of ten episodes, which is three fewer than usual. With that in mind, there’s a chance that Hulu may roll out the episodes sooner. After all, fewer episodes means production on Season 4 would wrap sooner and less time could be spent in post-production. All things considered, however, the number of episodes probably won’t affect Season 4’s inevitable postponement at this point.
“We hope to be back in production as soon as it’s safe to do so,” Elisabeth Moss wrote in an Instagram post. Of course, given that there’s no guarantee of when it will be safe to get back to work or if the delays will carry on for a couple of weeks or a few months, fans of the show should brace themselves for an even longer wait than usual.
Seasons 1 - 3 of The Handmaid's Tale are currently available to stream on Hulu.