Somewhere in an alternate dimension — or, in a piece of exquisitely elaborate fan fiction (yes, this is a suggestion for you to write that piece of fan fiction and subsequently forward it to me) — Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) of Game of Thrones and Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) of The Handmaid's Tale are clinking goblets of red wine and discussing their strategy for sending people into spats of paralyzing fear using only side glances.
Together, Cersei and Serena form TV's coven of bad, blonde witches, and have been terrifying us since 2011 and 2017, respectively. Though Serena and Cersei are separated in different dimensions in the prestige TV universe, the actresses are very much in the same realm. In fact, their roles are in conversation with one another. During E!'s coverage of the Emmys red carpet, Yvonne Strahovski confessed that she looks to Headey's performance when planning her own character.
"Headey plays a similarly very evil woman. Some of her evil has inspired my evil," Strahovski said, laughing. Ironically, Strahovski was heavily pregnant — the exact state her character, Serena, yearns for above all.
Now that Strahovski points out the similarity, the two characters' resemblance is apparent, beyond their blonde locks (especially before Cersei's hair was lopped off by those wretched nuns) and their aptitude for cruelty. Example A: They come into their power when their husbands aren't around. Cersei orchestrates Robert's death and becomes Queen; Serena briefly governs Gilead when her husband Fred (Joe Fiennes) is ailing. Example B: They're visionaries, albeit with pretty cruel and unusual visions. Cersei's bent on Westerosi domination; Serena wants to enslave all women into an old Testament world. But whereas Serena tries desperately to conform her desires to fit within the rules, Cersei is burning the rule book — and the Sept — entirely.
That said, I don't think Serena and Cersei's essences simply boil down to to the word "evil." The characters are downright fascinating, too. Serena and Cersei are two of the most delectably compelling characters on TV precisely because of their stubborn, unapologetic badness. Loathsome fictional men have been at the center of narratives for ages. Thanks to characters like Serena and Cersei, now we have complex women to hate, too. And that is some kind of progress, isn't it?
The next time you see Serena's sneer in The Handmaid's Tale, maybe you'll catch a flash of Cersei there, too. Given Strahovski's comment, you won't be imagining the resemblance.
Looking for more theories, recaps, and insider info on all things TV? Join our Facebook group, Binge Club. The community is a space for you to share articles, discuss last night’s episode of your favorite show, or ask questions! Join here.