Serena Joy and Fred Waterford’s popularity is an increasing threat in The Handmaid’s Tale. The couple has lost its influence in Gilead due to their imprisonment. But they realized in season 4 episode 8 that their popularity is growing outside of Gilead’s borders. Serena Joy actor Yvonne Strahovski revealed why that’s such a terrifying concept in a recent interview.
[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4.]
Is Serena good or bad in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’?
The Handmaid’s Tale has taught viewers that Serena Joy can’t be trusted. The second she’s faced with any accountability for her part in creating and upholding Gilead, she resorts back to her villainous ways to save her skin. In that regard, she and Fred are a perfect pair. They’ll spin themselves into victims or heroes before admitting to any wrongdoing. And without fail, they’ll say their actions are mandated by God.
The scary truth about Gilead is that their practices are working. Serena Joy is nearly nine months pregnant, and it seems her baby is in good health. Her pregnancy is a validation of Gilead’s methods to improve the birth rate. The infertility crisis that prompted the creation of Gilead is global. And as Fred said in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 8, Gilead is the only place in the world where the birth rate is rising.
Between Serena Joy’s relative fame before Gilead and the couple’s fame post-Gilead, Fred and Serena Joy have become some of Gilead’s most recognizable faces. Because of this, they have fans all around the world.
Yvonne Strahovski was shocked by Serena Joy and Fred’s supporters in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4
After June’s testimony in episode 8, Fred and Serena Joy walk out of the court room to find a crowd of supporters waiting for them. Strahovski told The Wrap this was shocking to read in the script. She said:
“I remember reading it and thinking, ‘Oh, my God — why is there a fan club?’ And then catching myself, thinking, ‘Oh, of course.’ I mean, this is totally what is happening in real life. There are fan clubs for all kinds of things and all the things we’ve seen, all the kind of extremist behavior out there, there’s a fan club for it. And it’s confronting, honestly.”
Strahovski also admitted being a “face” of religious extremism has been a struggle for her throughout the show. She said:
“Those are the parts of playing the role that have always been a little bit confronting. And find yourself kind of the face of both of both the make-believe version and the face of the real lives… There’s the real-life stuff that’s going on and then people make parallels to the character of Serena or the character of Fred. So it is confronting playing as the actor, playing that role, being the face of it.”
Yvonne Strahovski says not to trust Serena Joy
The Handmaid’s Tale has always made fans question if Serena Joy would ever turn out to be good. Strahovski says not to hold your breath. She told Entertainment Weekly:
“I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her either. I think for the first few seasons people were kind of trusting that perhaps she could turn a corner and she could change, but I think what was really important for me to explore this season was kind of the freedom in which she allows herself to kind of really be more strategic in how she wants her future to evolve.”
All of Serena Joy’s motivations, Strahovski says, are purely selfish. Her apology to June was strategy. Teaming up with Fred for their legal battle was strategy. She is entirely focused on her own best interests and that of her child. And Strahovski says Serena Joy’s not sorry for any of it. She said:
“It is hard to trust her because you see the wheels turning in her brain even when she’s begging for forgiveness from June. I think there’s a huge genuine part of her that really does want that forgiveness, but it’s purely for selfish reasons. I think she believes that God is going to turn around and kill her baby if she doesn’t beg for forgiveness. It’s not because she is really that sorry, I don’t think.”
If the actor who plays Serena Joy says she can’t be trusted, it’s best to heed that advice. The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 finale debuts June 16 on Hulu.
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