The Handmaid’s Tale, adapted from Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same title, is one of the best shows available to stream right now. Most fans of the series are watching to follow June’s efforts to resist the oppression of Gilead and to reunite with her daughter and husband. However, everyone can agree that one of the most compelling characters in the series is Serena Joy. The wife of Commander Waterford, Serena is the infertile woman who has been assigned Offred as her handmaid. Here, you can find ten of the most important facts about her, but be warned: there are spoilers ahead!
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The 10 Facts about Serena Joy you Need to Know
Though her lack of freedom in Gilead and her inability to bear children suggest that she is one of the weakest women in the series, her status as a Commander’s wife and her own intelligence place her among the most compelling characters in the series.
10. Mrs. Waterford is played by Yvonne Strahovski.
Born Yvonne Jaqueline Strzechowski, Strahovski is an Australian actress. Her breakout Hollywood role was as Sarah Walker in Chuck (2007),a part she landed just three days after arriving in Los Angeles from Australia. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the category Best Performance by an Actress is a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for television in 2019 for her role as Serena Waterford, but lost to Patricia Clarkson.
9. She cares about having a child more than anything.
And Serena doesn’t care who gets hurt along the way. Her previous handmaid found life in the Waterford household so unbearable that she committed suicide. Mrs. Waterford frequently hits Offred, though her mood quickly shifts from violent to loving when she believes that June is pregnant. Thinking that her husband may be infertile, Serena insists that Offred have sex with Nick Blaine, their driver, in a last-ditch effort to have a child, even if it would offend the Commander.
8. She helped create the cultural foundation of Gilead.
Before Gilead, Serena Waterford was a right-religious activist. She wrote a book, A Woman’s Place, that expressed her beliefs. A famous line from her book, repeated in the show, is, “Never mistake a woman’s meekness for weakness.” At a college event to promote her book, she is booed and harassed, and when she leaves the event, a sniper shoots her in the stomach. It is a “terrorist” attack orchestrated by Fred and his conspirators to incite rebellion. As the new society comes to fruition, Serena is completely excluded from planning because of the culture she helped create and must accept her new role.
7. Serena and June team up to take on the Commander’s work.
After the bombing in season two, Fred is put in the hospital. Serena Joy, a known intellectual, leaps at the opportunity to take on a new, mentally stimulating role. Mrs. Waterford writes drafts for security policies and asks June, who was an editor before Gilead, to read over and edit them. The two work hard until the Commander returns, thanking her for her work but asking her to leave his office so he can look it over himself.
6. She wants June gone as soon as possible.
Serena tells June that she will be sent to another district as soon as the baby is born, which Aunt Lydia says is Mrs. Waterford’s prerogative. When June has false contractions and isn’t actually close to giving birth, Serena Joy is furious. She tells Commander Waterford that the baby must come naturally, and tricks June into coming to her room. She pins June to the bed and Fred sexually assaults Offred in an effort to induce labor.
5. Serena Joy and Fred blame each other for Offred’s resistance.
The two of them constantly fight over who is to blame for June’s hatred of their household and desire to run away and escape Gilead. Serena blames Fred for giving June too many comforts: Scrabble, trips to Jezebel’s, and the chance to see her daughter. The Commander, on the other hand, blames Mrs. Waterford for her cruelty toward June. They call each other names and resent one another.
4. She has mixed feelings about June’s role in Nicole’s upbringing.
Offred leaves the Waterford household as soon as baby Nicole is born. However, the family begins to run low on breast milk because June begins to dry up. At first, June has no interest in seeing Nicole either, but it helps her produce more milk. Neither Fred nor Serena wants June around, but she is brought back to the house to pump. Eventually, Serena gives in and allows Offred to breastfeed.
3. As time goes on, Mrs. Waterford grows more unhappy with Gilead.
Though in season one Serena Joy tells the Mexican ambassador that God asks for sacrifices when asked how she feels about women being unable to read, Serena’s mind slowly changes over the course of the series. By the end of season two, she and the other wives ask for women to be permitted to read the Bible. The Commanders, including Fred, are offended by her reading from Eden’s Bible and Serena is punished; part of her pinky finger is amputated.
2. Serena allows June to escape with Nicole.
In the finale of season two, the resistance sets fire to a nearby home to allow June the opportunity to escape. Serena Waterford notices and begs June to let her keep Nicole. However, after they forgot their contempt for one another when Serena was punished, June is able to be candid: Gilead is no place for a baby girl to grow up. With a tearful goodbye, Serena Joy allows June, Nicole, and a Martha to escape together.
1. She is still alive (at least for now).
Serena Joy and June are reunited at the beginning of the current season, season three. June returned to Gilead in the hopes of seeing Hannah again, leaving Nicole with another Handmaid, who gets her to Canada and to Luke. Serena participates in attempts to get baby Nicole back throughout season three, and her relationship with June is as tense as ever.
Nerds and Scoundrels
And that concludes our top ten facts about the infamous Mrs. Waterford. Did we do her justice? Let us know in the comments below!