The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1 first introduced viewers to the dynamics between Elisabeth Moss' June and Yvonne Strahovski's Serena, the wife of Commander Waterford that served as one of the thinkers behind the idea for Gilead. Serena is very much an antagonist, but The Handmaid’s Tale affords her brief moments of sympathy. That said, series star Yvonne Strahovski has not been shy about her feelings towards her character and she recently explained why she hasn’t changed her mind about Serena.
Serena looks out for number one: herself. Over the course of The Handmaid’s Tale’s three seasons, Serena has had moments of clarity. Sometimes, it seemed as though she would change her mind, see the error of her ways, and help June and Mayday fight back against Gilead’s fascist regime. However, despite seeing the cruelty first-hand while actively assisting in the rape of Elisabeth Moss’ June in Season 1, Serena hasn’t evolved past her reprehensible past.
Serena has also continued benefitting from the system she helped set up. You’d think having a finger cut off as punishment would shake her to the realities of Gilead, but nope. Yvonne Strahovski has lived in Serena’s skin for a few years now. As far as changing her mind about Serena goes, here’s what she told Collider:
No, not really. It’s just more of a focused thing. In the pilot and the first season, I spent a lot of time getting to know her. Now that I know her, I still think she’s despicable. I did an interview with [Elisabeth Moss], and she said that I’m the harshest critic of Serena, out of everybody, because I just don’t really have any sympathy for her. I do, and I don’t. When I see the end result, I don’t, but as the actor who plays her, I do. In the moment, I spend time sitting with her and justifying all of her heinous actions. It’s a very awkward space to be in. I sit in a very ugly, dirty space, justifying everything, and how she feels, and why she is the most important person on the planet. And then, I step outside of that and I watch the show, and I see how hideous she is. It’s a strange contradictory space to exist in, with this character.
Yvonne Strahovski knows who Serena is at her core, and it’s nothing too positive. Strahovski is quite purposeful in her portrayal of Serena as a victim in her own mind while also as a perpetrator to June and others. I’m on board with Strahovski in that Serena is quite “despicable,” and I think she showcases the character’s true intentions really well.
All that said, Yvonne Strahovski does enjoy playing Serena and believes what others say is true, it is “fun” getting to play a villain. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any challenges. Strahovski cites the scene where Serena has to hold June down as being “quite difficult” to film. I admit that it was incredibly hard to watch that scene as well.
The last viewers saw of Serena, she had been arrested and was being held in Canada. She was allowed to see June’s daughter Nicole during supervised visits. However, with her and her husband Fred facing punishment, there’s no telling what The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 will bring, or when it will be bringing it.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 is set to premiere at some point in 2021. In the meantime, you can binge the first three seasons on Hulu. For more on what to watch, be sure to check out our 2020 summer TV premiere guide.