‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: 5 Times Serena Was the Absolute Worst

Serena Joy Waterford is one of the main antagonists on The Handmaid’s Tale. Yvonne Strahovski plays Serena and was nominated for an Emmy Award for her portrayal. While Strahovski is able to bring out moments of sympathy in her performance, Serena is an unmistakable villain in the series. These are five moments when Serena was the absolute worst in The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Handmaid's Tale Serena
Yvonne Strahovski plays Serena on ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ | Harmony Gerber/FilmMagic

5. Any time she was physically abusive

In The Handmaid’s Tale, Serena has a temper. There are multiple episodes where Serena physically lashes out, and June often is the victim to Serena’s abuse. In the third episode of the first season, “Late,” Serena grabs June’s wrist and throws her to the ground. In that season’s finale, “Night,” Serena backhands June into a door frame.

During the second season, Serena maintains her abusive ways. In the fourth episode of season 2, “Other Women,” Serena strangles June while she is pregnant. Later in that episode, Serena is angered by June but because Aunt Lydia is present she slaps Rita instead of June.

4. Serena banishes June from the house

When it comes to Holly, Serena’s motives become completely skewed. After June gives birth to Holly, Serena banishes June from the house and names the baby Nichole. Even when June returns to the Waterford’s house, Serena does not want June interacting with Holly at all, even to breast feed.

Serena’s possessiveness over Holly is downright creepy, and it shows she does not have the baby’s best interest at heart. Serena does not want to risk June rightfully bonding with Holly in an effort to protect her own delusions.

3. When Serena locked June in solitary confinement

In the fourth episode of the first season, “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum,” Serena keeps June locked in her room for two weeks. She does this after it’s revealed June was not actually pregnant and experienced a false alarm. It’s a sadistic form of psychological torture, and shows how cruel Serena can be.

2. Serena takes June to see Hannah in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

In the first season’s finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, June discovers she is pregnant. When she tells Serena she did not want to bring a child into Gilead, Serena fears June’s rebellious and unapologetic attitude.

She arranges for her and June to visit a neighboring district. When Serena exits the car, she instructs the driver to lock the doors so June cannot get out. June watches and sees Serena sitting on the steps with her and Luke’s daughter, Hannah.

In this despicable moment, Serena forces June to watch Hannah but makes it impossible for Hannah to see or hear her. It’s pure torture for June, as she hasn’t seen Hannah in three years after being captured. To make matters worse, Serena threatens Hannah and tells June that if “her baby” is safe then so is June’s.

1. The Last Ceremony

The worst thing Serena has ever done occurred in episode 10 of the second season. After June goes into false labor, Serena feels embarrassed and angry at June. Both Serena and Fred agree that June needs to remember her place in the household, and Serena suggests having the Ceremony one last time.

Under the guise of inducing labor, Serena holds June down as Fred rapes June. In “The Last Ceremony,” Serena cements herself as an irredeemable villain. Going into season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale, Serena will hopefully be punished for the heinous acts she committed in Gilead.