After a two-year hiatus, Hulu's Emmy Award-winning dystopian drama "The Handmaid's Tale" is back for season four.
"We go to places we've never been before," Executive producer Warren Littlefield said. "We've heard about uprisings in Chicago, we've heard that the rebel forces are becoming a problem for Gilead. Well, now we go."
Season four takes audiences further into the fictional world of Gilead — a United States seized and controlled by a Christian fundamentalist group.
But beyond the traumas within the fictionalized country, audiences also see the international effects of its extremism: a refugee crisis in Canada.
The new season takes great pains to show that escaping Gilead doesn't immediately ensure a happy ending. Writers on the show worked with consultants from refugee advocacy groups to make sure the issue was handled accurately — in a way that mirrors real events from history, as well as the current crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"There's a lot of research that goes into what does that journey look like?" Littlefield said. "What are the human emotions? What are the experiences when you go through radical change?"
The latest season of "The Handmaid's Tale" filmed throughout the pandemic — starting production around Toronto in March of 2020, shutting down for six months, and then picking back up with stringent testing.
"We had over 27,000 COVID tests and 11 positives," Littlefield said. "It was a very, very different work experience. And somehow, I think our narrative journey remains strong."
And that journey isn't slowing down. As the new season picks up where the story left off, "The Handmaid's Tale" is also gearing up for season five.
"The themes are mirroring very much the world that we're living in," Littlefield said. "We're still reminded that the journey for human rights, for women's rights, rights for people of color, that journey is such a long distance to travel still, it's far from over."