'The Handmaid's Tale' Scores Early Season 2 Renewal at Hulu

The Handmaid's Tale Still 4 - Publicity - H 2017
George Kraychyk/Hulu

Hulu is returning to Gilead.

The streamer on Wednesday handed out an early second-season renewal to critical favorite The Handmaid's Tale.

Season two of the drama, based on the book of the same name by Margaret Atwood, will return for its sophomore run in 2018.

Starring Elisabeth Moss, the series takes place in Gilead, a futuristic world in which fertility issues abound and women's rights are a thing of the past. In order to keep the population up, government officials in a totalitarian society send young and fertile women — the "handmaids" — to affluent families, where they are forced to help couples procreate via sexual servitude.

In announcing the renewal as part of its NewFronts presentation, the streamer noted that the Handmaid's Tale premiere has been watched by more Hulu viewers than any other series debut — original or acquired. The drama from MGM Television, co-starring Samira Wiley and Alexis Bledel, has earned rave reviews and currently has an impressive 92 score on Metacritic. The show launched April 26 with its first three episodes before moving to a weekly rollout starting Wednesday.

"The response we’ve seen to The Handmaid’s Tale in just one week since its premiere has been absolutely incredible. It has been an honor to work with this talented team of cast and creators to develop a series that has struck such a chord with audiences across the country,” said Hulu head of content Craig Erwich. "As we continue to expand our strong slate of original programming, The Handmaid’s Tale is exactly the type of gripping and thought-provoking storytelling we want to bring to viewers. We can’t wait to explore the world of Gilead and continue Margaret’s vision with another season on Hulu."

Hulu landed Handmaid's Tale in a competitive situation with FX after Showtime — which developed the series with Ilene Chaiken — passed. Bruce Miller (The 100) serves as showrunner after writing a new script for the property and is credited as the sole creator. (Empire showrunner Chaiken was unavailable to run the Hulu series given her overall deal with 20th Century Fox and commitment to the Fox hip-hop drama, though she is credited as an executive producer on it.) MGM's Warren Littlefield (Fargo) exec produces, with Atwood on board as a consulting producer.

Hulu had a lot riding on Handmaid's Tale, which serves a cornerstone of its scripted originals. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of its debut, Erwich noted his goal for the streamer — which is searching for a new content chief — is to break out from the arts and entertainment pages and into the culture pages where rivals Netflix and Amazon regularly appear.

The Handmaid's Tale was just one part of Hulu's NewFronts announcements; click here for full coverage. For full Handmaid's Tale coverage, go to THR.com/HandmaidsTale.