It's time to buckle up for more torment and rebellion under the patriarchy's watchful eye — The Handmaid's Tale is back for Season 4. The intense Hulu drama stars Elisabeth Moss as Handmaid-turned-enemy of the state June Osborne, whose quest to bring down the totalitarian Republic of Gilead grows bloodier by the year. The Handmaid's Tale can be gripping, frustrating, and healing, sometimes all at once, but even at its most brutal, it's hard to shake a sick fascination with where the story will go next.
The Handmaid's Tale captured the political climate in the late 2010s, sounding the alarm on how far a country could fall in the wrong hands. If you want to pass the time with similar shows while you wait for new episodes, check out these dramas that dig into the same big ideas. Whether you're looking for more dystopias, women surviving in a sexist society, or people undermining the government, you'll find something on this list to enjoy (even if you enjoy being miserable).
The Americans may not be set in a dystopian alternate timeline, but it does suggest that maybe the real dystopia was inside America all along. Joe Weisberg's exquisite Cold War spy drama stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as a pair of Russian intelligence officers posing as a suburban American couple in the 1980s, carrying out espionage in the basement of their picture-perfect home. Their careful plotting against the government is less explosive than June's but even more tense and thrilling. But beyond the international intrigue, The Americans is ultimately a family drama about the challenges of marriage and parenthood in a hostile country. Philip and Elizabeth's perspective as outsiders pushes the audience to look sideways at American culture and politics in the same unsettling way The Handmaid's Tale finds the roots of Gilead in modern America. Both shows tap into the fear of raising children in a violent world, and few shows have ever done it better than The Americans. [Watch on Amazon]
The Plot Against America was swallowed in the chaos of the month it debuted in, March 2020, but it shouldn't be missed. The devastating HBO limited series, written by The Wire's David Simon and Ed Burns and based on the novel by Philip Roth, imagines an alternate version of American history in which celebrity aviator Charles Lindbergh ran for president in 1940 on a fascist, isolationist platform and won the election over Franklin D. Roosevelt. The story plays out through the eyes of a working class Jewish American family in Newark, New Jersey, whose pursuit of the American dream crumbles as America slides into fascism. Like The Handmaid's Tale, it's a dark allegory for the Trump administration that explores how hateful people can be and how quickly the world can change because of it. It's an astounding gut punch. [Watch on HBO Max]
To spend more time inside the world of Margaret Atwood, you could crack open a book, or you could watch Alias Grace, an Atwood adaptation that's as succinct and grueling as The Handmaid's Tale is long and grueling. The six-part miniseries, directed by American Psycho's Mary Harron and written by actress-turned-filmmaker Sarah Polley, is another harrowing look at the horrors inflicted on women, but this one rails against the patriarchy of the past instead of the near future. Sarah Gadon is electric as Grace Marks, a maid famous for committing a murder she can't remember, spinning her possibly unreliable tale to a psychiatrist sent to judge her sanity. Inspired by the real-life 19th century killer of the same name, it's a true crime drama in the form of an eerie period piece. [Watch on Netflix]
For even more toxic patriarchy, watch Mad Men. Matthew Weiner's glossy golden-age drama about 1960s advertising is as good as advertised, and it has a lot more to offer Handmaid's Tale fans than another stellar Elisabeth Moss performance (although it has that too). The AMC series is sharp about the ways women are shamed and diminished in a male-dominated culture, especially if they try to step outside the life that's expected of them. The women of Mad Men, including Moss' career girl Peggy Olson, Christina Hendricks' unflappable Joan Holloway, and January Jones' Betty Draper, a housewife in a gilded cage, pay a steep price to define themselves. Mad Men's setting in a tumultuous decade also makes it better than any show out there at capturing what it feels like to live through history. [Watch on AMC+, free with ads on IMDb TV]
While The Handmaid's Tale leans into the bleakness of the Trump era, The Good Fight stares down the barrel of its absurdity. Robert and Michelle King's no-holds-barred follow-up to The Good Wife follows Christine Baranski's Diane Lockhart as she takes a new job with a majority Black law firm that regularly wades into scalding-hot political waters; in one episode, a client who may or may not be Melania Trump looks into getting a divorce. The Good Fight will try anything, from a catchy animated musical sequence about impeachment to Jeffrey Epstein conspiracy theories to slapping a "CBS has censored this content" message on content the network actually censored. But the outrageous controlled chaos is all in service of the show's incendiary rage at an unequal justice system. The Good Fight calls out corporate feminism and liberals who abandon their principles to get ahead, exploring the intersection of race and power more directly than The Handmaid's Tale does. And it's fun! It's a legal drama for the age of no rules. [Watch on Paramount+]
If you wish The Handmaid's Tale had dedicated more time to life inside the brothel and sex club known as Jezebel's, check out Harlots. The British-American period piece revolves around Samantha Morton's Margaret Wells, the madam of an up-and-coming brothel in 18th century London. The series is frank about the fact that sex work is the only chance most of these women have to advance in society, and about the ways it can be empowering one day and abusive the next. On Harlots, like on The Handmaid's Tale, women are forced to use their bodies to survive. But on top of the show's substantial exploration of the power dynamics of sex work, Harlots can also be a soapy, bodice-ripping pleasure. What's impressive is how well it handles the serious stuff while still being a romp. [Watch on Hulu]
The underrated Colony will scratch your itch for both dystopia and sci-fi. Created by Lost's Carlton Cuse and Ryan J. Condal, the USA Network series is set in a near-future version of Los Angeles that's under military occupation by mysterious outside forces. Former FBI agent Will Bowman (Josh Holloway) and his family, including wife Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies), find themselves on different sides of the resistance as they try to survive. Cuse and Condal conceived the drama as a metaphor for the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II; Colony doesn't care about detailed sci-fi explanations as much as it cares about how it feels to live in a repressive regime, which gives it plenty in common with The Handmaid's Tale. Both shows are immersive allegories for how people cope when the government turns on them. [Watch on Netflix]
If you're after a dystopian thriller with more of a YA flavor, watch Netflix's Brazilian drama 3%. Set in a reality where 20-year-olds compete to earn their way out of their impoverished mainland and onto a supposed island paradise, 3% follows a diverse handful of hopefuls who each enter the competition — known as The Process — for their own reasons. It's like a version of The Hunger Games where murder is optional. And, like both The Hunger Games and The Handmaid's Tale, it's a story driven by class tensions. 3% is an entertaining takedown of the myth that rich people deserve the right to crush less privileged people under their heels. Sound familiar? [Watch on Netflix]
New episodes of The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 premiere Wednesdays on Hulu.