'Handmaid's Tale' Season 3 Moves to June, Will Miss Emmys (and 'Game of Thrones')

This June, it's all about June (Elisabeth Moss).

Hulu's Emmy-winning The Handmaid's Tale will return for its third season on June 5 with three brand new episodes, the streaming service announced Monday at TCA. It's the latest start yet for the flagship Hulu series, from creator Bruce Miller and based on Margaret Atwood's novel of the same name, since it first premiered in 2017. The two previous seasons of the dystopian drama launched in the month of April. 

On a practical level, the late premiere date pushes The Handmaid's Tale season three out of contention for the 2019 Emmy Awards, with June 1 as the eligibility cut-off date. (The last six episodes of season two will still be eligible in some individual categories — like direction — but cannot be considered for best drama series even though they aired between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019.) What's more, it keeps the story of Offred/June clear of another genre giant: Game of Thrones. One imagines the April 14 launch of the record-breaking HBO epic's final season as a factor in Hulu's decision-making, given the lightning rod quality surrounding all things Westeros, especially as it prepares to unfold its episodes. 

In speaking with reporters Monday at TCA, Hulu senior vp originals Craig Erwich stressed that the delay had everything to do with maintaining the quality of The Handmaid's Tale. "Maintaining the quality of The Handmaid's Tale, which is impeccable, takes time," he told reporters. "We wanted to give the show enough time to maintain the incredibly high standards of storytelling set in seasons one and two. The season three episodes — all of them — [will be] eligible for the Emmy body when the show is qualified." Asked by THR specifically if the delay had anything do with avoiding Game of Thrones, the exec said it didn't. "No it doesn't," he said. "We wanted to give the show as much time as possible to maintain the quality that it has." 

The third season of Handmaid's Tale stands ready to follow June into a new life where she's free from the shackles of being Offred, if not quite free from Gilead itself. In the season two finale, June faced her best opportunity for escape yet, but opted to stay behind in the land that used to be known as America. The reason: Hannah (Jordana Blake), June's young daughter, is still living somewhere in Gilead. 

"She is staying to fight to save all the children of Gilead," Moss previously told The Hollywood Reporter about her vision for June heading into season three. "It's bigger than her now. It's bigger than her and Holly and Hannah. It's all about the sons and especially daughters of Gilead, and fighting for their lives. Seeing the Martha network and the commander has opened her eyes. She is no longer alone. She has an army, and she's going to fight back."

"I think season three, there's a level of triumph and [a notion of] 'blessed be the fight,'" Miller previously told THR about season three's themes. "Certainly, we're going to hit ups and downs, just like we did [in season two], but that there's kind of a level of rebellious spirit in June that will make her more hard-charging, and the victories will be a little bit more visceral."

Hulu, meanwhile, also used TCA to announce additional premiere dates: 
Into the Dark's April Fools' Day episode — "I'm Just F*cking With You" — will bow April 5; Mother's Day installment "All That We Destroy" is set for May 3.
Ramy, the comedy starring Ramy Youssef, will bow April 19 with all 10 episodes.
Ask Dr. Ruth, the documentary, will unspool on May 10.
Catch-22, the limited series starring Kyle Chandler and George Clooney, will bow with all six episodes on May 17. 
The Act, the limited anthology series starring Patricia Arquette and Chloe Sevigny, will bow March 20 with two episodes and subsequent installments every Wednesday.

Lesley Goldberg contributed to this report.