Hulu to Air “Handmaid’s Tale” Ad During Super Bowl


Hulu will air an ad for their upcoming original series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” during the Super Bowl on Sunday. The series is based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel.

For the first time since they began creating original series, Hulu has purchased air time during the Super Bowl for one of their shows. A 30-second spot for The Handmaid’s Tale will air during the game’s second quarter. The fact that Hulu is finally investing in Super Bowl ads for their original content isn’t nearly as noteworthy as the content they’re promoting. Promoting a femicentric show to a male-dominated audience? That may be a first.

The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of Offred, a woman who is stripped of her name, her rights, and her free will after a radical Christian group takes over the United States government, suspending the Constitution and establishing a new regime known as the Republic of Gilead. Women who were once independent and had families are forced into a group called handmaids whose sole purpose is to serve as a reproductive vessel for higher-ranking members of society in order to increase the population for the ruling class. The handmaids are literally considered property of these members, given new names that reflect this ownership. Names like Offred and Ofglen signify that these women belong to men named Fred and Glen — “Of Fred” and “Of Glen”. Atwood’s dystopian novel was written in the 1980s but, much like George Orwell’s 1984, there’s been an increased interest due to our current political climate. In other words, let these novels serve as a warning of where we may actually be headed.

Although it may seem odd to air an ad for a show like this — politically charged and anti-patriarchal — during the biggest football game of the season, it makes sense when you consider the NFL’s audience. Women are the NFL’s fastest-growing demographic. Between 2009 and 2013, viewership among women increased by 26 percent compared to just 18 percent for men. And between 2012 and 2013, male viewership dropped 2 percent while it increased for women by 3 percent.

It’s worth mentioning that the NFL has lost quite a few viewers over the past year or so. There’s some speculation that this is related to issues within the NFL such as domestic abuse arrests and accusations and concern over CTE, a degenerative brain disease found in people, particularly athletes, who have sustained repeated or severe blows to the head.

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Regardless of this drop in viewership, there’s still no doubt that women are an important part of the NFL’s audience, especially during the Super Bowl. Hopefully we’ll see more ads aimed at the female demographic during NFL games, even if it does get under the thin skin of the NFL’s more misogynistic fans. And for those male football fans who aren’t intimidated by feminism, maybe Hulu’s investment will pay off when those who are secure in their masculinity decide to watch The Handmaid’s Tale when it premieres on April 26th.