The Handmaids Tale season 5: Hidden meaning in Serenas custody dress

This Morning: Janine Lindo discusses Handmaid's Tale future

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Hulu’s gripping drama The Handmaid’s Tale came to a cliffhanger ending earlier this month with June Osborne (played by Elisabeth Moss) reunited with her enemy. As fans await the sixth and final season, the show’s costume designer, Leslie Kavanagh exposed the meaning behind Serena Joy’s (Yvonne Strahovski) custody battle dress.

Throughout season five, fans were taken on a whirlwind journey as the table turned for the disgraced Commander’s wife, Serena Joy.

She was served with a similar treatment she gave to her former handmaid June as it became evident Serena was slowly but surely being demoted to a handmaid. 

This came after the death of her husband Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and the birth of her son, Noah who had been fostered by Gilead sympathizers Alanis Wheeler (Genevieve Angelson) and her husband Ryan Wheeler (Lucas Neff).

As a result, Serena found herself in a battle for custody as she was placed in a detention centre.

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As she had given birth on the run, Serena had no choice but to beg the Wheelers to foster Noah, who would’ve been in the social care system. 

During episode eight, a judgemental Alanis paid her a visit to collect breastmilk. 

Serena was forced to bite her tongue and ask for forgiveness as she heard they were using the “cry it out method” on her one-month-old baby who was being forced to self-soothe. 

Despite the glum atmosphere of their conversation, Serena’s pastel yellow uniform was an intentional choice by Leslie Kavanagh.

The costume designer revealed: “The jumpsuit was costume made, I made all those for the specific scene and the yellow was for me to play against the severity of her situation. 

“It was a juxtaposition of how she’s trapped, she’s in a holding cell at the time but trapped in her life of where she is.

“Yellow is generally denoted as being a happy colour, a feel-good colour and of course, there’s anything but happening for Serena in that.”

Leslie continued: “It was a pitch that I really liked and there was no yellow in The Handmaid’s so for me to showcase colours that don’t already exist to play out the differences.

“I really wanted to have strong visual differences between life in Toronto and in Gilead and I was trying to stay away from a lot of primary colours in Toronto.

“It’s a soft buttery yellow, when you first see her or even the people in the background the yellow is a bit of a ‘oh what happening here.’”

Leslie added: “And of course, she sitting there having to breastfeed in a corner with no privacy and it’s just showing that she’s lost any and all stature of where she used to be.

“That she is just a victim of her circumstance much like the handmaids were, but in a different shade. 

“Of course, we didn’t want to do red,” she added to GoldDerby.

After Serena eventually reunited with Noah, she made the last-minute decision and escaped. 

She was able to hitchhike a ride and wasn’t seen until the season finale when she was reunited with June. 

Both the women found themselves back in each other’s lives, this time with their children and on the run from Gilead. 

The Handmaid’s Tale seasons 1-5 are available to stream on Hulu in the US and on All 4 in the UK.

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