SXSW: Hulu Says It's Not Making a Political Statement With 'Handmaids Tale'

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Wandering among the crowds of entrepreneurs, filmmakers and marketers in downtown Austin this week during South by Southwest are women walking in pairs dressed as Handmaids. They are completely silent, and won't answer you if you speak to them. But if you ask them certain questions, like "Should we walk by the river?" they will give you something special -- though we're not quite sure what that is.

"They are creeping everyone out," said Jenny Wall, head of marketing at Hulu, during a panel on "The Streaming Games" on Saturday afternoon.

Hulu will stream "The Handmaid's Tale," based on the dystopian Margaret Atwood book of the same name, starting April 26. "Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate," Hulu describes the plot in one synopsis, a future version of the United States called Gilead "is ruled by a twisted fundamentalism in its militarized 'return to traditional values.'"

The series is an important one for Hulu, which hasn't achieved the kind of breakout original that Netflix did with "House of Cards," but also one that is garnering plenty of attention in the current heated political climate.

Ms. Wall said the story's themes of female oppression are timeless, but also right now especially timely.

Despite that, Ms. Wall said Hulu has been careful of not getting involved in the political rhetoric.

"Even before anything happened in politics, it was a great story to tell," Ms. Wall said, adding that now that the environment is more sensitive, the marketing of the show has changed a bit.

"We're not trying to make a political statement at all," she said.

"We have the Handmaids here, we didn't have them in the Women's March," she continued. "We don't want to use politics to promote a show."

Instead Hulu is letting the content speak for itself, Ms. Wall said. She points to a commercial Hulu ran during the Super Bowl for the series. One of the lines in that promo warns, "A better world isn't better for everyone."

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