Return to Gilead: 10 shows to check out if you miss The Handmaid’s Tale

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The Leftovers

What it’s about: When two percent of the world’s population suddenly vanishes out of thin air in a Rapture-esque supernatural event, the people left behind uselessly try to make sense of the situation and move on with their lives. But coming to terms with an existential crisis that monumental is easier said than done.

The Gilead connection (besides Ann Dowd): You know how The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t a great show to watch when you want to feel happy? It’s the same deal times 1,000 for The Leftovers. The Leftovers sees The Handmaid’s Tale’s general feeling of dread and raises it by total despair.

No matter how terrible things get for June and her allies — and they can get really, really bad — there’s always the slight, slight possibility that Gilead’s reign of terror will end. Not so with The Leftovers’ players. No matter how much time passes, or the plausibility of the explanations about the Sudden Departure, the people who disappeared are still gone. They are never coming back.

Both shows also excel at portraying the aftermath of chaos. On The Handmaid’s Tale, Gilead’s tightly controlled system is a response to the uncertainty of environmental disaster, plunging fertility rates and war. The Leftovers begins three years after the Departure and its overall mood is comparable to the anniversary of a loved one’s death: things seem to be fine, mostly, but everyone is still on edge.

Where to watch: The full series is streaming on HBO Now, HBO Go and Amazon Prime.