ByElle McFarlane, writer at
'There's always someone younger and hungrier coming down the stairs after you.'
Elle McFarlane

Set in a not-so-distant dystopian future, Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale is a harrowing exploration of what life would be like for a small selection of fertile females in a world in which most women have been left sterile. With an all-star cast including Elisabeth Moss as Offred, the show's protagonist, alongside Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley and Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid's Tale transforms Margret Atwood's original book into a gripping, critical success of a series — but what other TV shows are like The Handmaid's Tale?

1. 'Black Mirror' (Netflix, 3 Seasons)

The ultimate dystopian television series, like , Black Mirror delves deep into the "what if" questions, presenting us episode by episode with a series of glimpses into a future nearly always corrupted by some form of technological advancement. With both shows leaving a deep seated sense of unease post-watching, you might want to make sure you're in a stable mental headspace before immersing yourself in their dark, borderline-apocalyptic universes.

2. 'The Man in the High Castle' (Amazon, 2 Seasons)

Based on the dystopian novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle explores what life would be like in '60s America if the Axis powers had won World War II. Like The Handmaid's Tale it explores the corruption and misuse of power on both a macro and micro scale and how the effects of a few elites effect those at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Dark, daunting and terrifyingly real, this Amazon original series has proved so successful that it's been renewed for a third season.

3. 'Orphan Black' (BBC America, 4 Seasons)

Canadian sci-fi thriller, Orphan Black follows protagonist Sarah Manning, a woman who discovers she is just one of many identical clones created in a lab. Just like The Handmaid's Tale, Orphan Black deals with issues concerning female fertility and reproduction, with just two of the clones being able to reproduce. It also explores issues of oppression, "othering," misogyny, morality and identity formation. With Season 5 set to premiere on June 10, Orphan Black has amassed quite an impressive following for what will be it's fifth and final season.

4. 'Colony' (USA Network, 2 Seasons)

Yet another dystopian series set in the near-future, LA based Colony follows a couple and their three children who are living under the military occupation of the extraterrestrial "Colony Transitional Authority." Just as in The Handmaid's Tale where we are rarely given a glimpse at exactly who is pulling the strings to make the dysfunctional Gilead society somewhat function, we are likewise never exposed to the mysterious alien "Hosts" who are controlling the occupied L.A.

5. 'Attack On Titan' (FUNimation, 2 Seasons)

[Credit: FUNimation]
[Credit: FUNimation]

An anime series based on a manga of the same name, Attack on Titan may not be one of the more obvious shows to compare to The Handmaid's Tale. However, set in a world in which humans have been forced to live in cities surrounded by colossal walls to protect themselves from from a gaggle of gigantic humanoid beings who eat humans at random, the palpable sense of fear, and the nagging anxiety of the unknown which underpins Attack On Titan is incredibly similar to that which underpins The Handmaid's Tale.

6. 'The 100' (The CW, 4 Seasons)

Like The Handmaid's Tale, The 100 is also based on a book of the same name. In the aftermath of earth being polluted by masses of poisonous radiation, mankind has been living in a fleet of spaceships orbiting the earth. However, when supply rations run dangerously low before the earth becomes inhabitable, a group of 100 juvenile teenage criminals are sent to earth to test whether humans are actually able to survive on the planet. Similar to The Handmaid's Tale in its somewhat utilitarian premise of abusing the human rights of a few to benefit the many, The 100 like Offred in the Hulu original series, depicts the innate human battle for survival against all odds.

7. 'Continuum' (Showcase, 4 Seasons)

Kiera, a detective from the year 2077 who discovers herself trapped in the present day, is given the unusual task of searching for a group of terrorists who have also time travelled to 2012, and neutralizing them. With the terrorists hellbent on preventing the corporations of 2012 from replacing the governments by 2077, it is up to Kiera to stop them while keeping her identity completely hidden. Similar to The Handmaid's Tale in its narrative of subterfuge and concealed identities, Continuum also deals with questions over who is really in charge of the masses, and what their real agenda is.

8. 'The Leftovers' (HBO, 3 Seasons)

[Credit: HBO]
[Credit: HBO]

Set three years after the unexplained and sudden disappearance of 2% of the world's population, an event referred to as the "Sudden Departure," those who remain must learn to adapt as most mainstream religions collapse and in their place, a number of cults begin to crop up. It is this exploration of the role of religion in the face of apocalyptic social upheaval that ties The Leftovers most closely to The Handmaid's Tale, with it being used as a means to oppress as well as a means to organize the participants (willing or otherwise) of this newly-formed society.

9. 'Jericho' (CBS, 2 Seasons)

Voted #11 in TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever after being cancelled twice due to poor ratings but still managing to create a loyal fanbase, Jericho is set in the fictional city of Jericho, Kansas, in the aftermath of 23 surprise nuclear attacks on the U.S. Having to adjust to complete radio silence to the rest of the world, as well as to complete societal reform, Jericho like The Handmaid's Tale explores the limits of humanities ability to adapt in the face of catastrophic disaster.

10. '3%' (Netflix, 1 Season)

A Brazilian dystopian drama, 3% is set in a world divided between the affluence of the "Offshore" and the poverty of the "Inland." Somewhat akin to the Hunger Games, at the age of 20, every human has the opportunity to try compete for a place in the Offshore through what is called "The Process." Unsurprisingly, The Process is grueling and at times lethal and shrouded in mystery not unlike the underpinnings of Gilead in The Handmaid's Tale.

Do you think we missed any dystopian TV shows which are similar to The Handmaid's Tale?


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