Why Cookie is the real hero of ‘Empire’

Mark my words, “Empire” will take over our lives. With the second season premiering tonight (!), you can’t escape those billboard ads and posters you see on every bus where the whole cast is decked out to the nines (looking like they’re on the CD cover of another #1 album). It’s a great show, a perfect blend of drama, music, and, yes, a little bit of soap opera. Empire has something for everyone.

If you don’t fall in love with the characters, the music alone will steal your heart. But as much as I love Lucious Lyon, the complicated, not-always-morally-great patriarch of the family, the character I think is the secret hero of Empire is Cookie, played by the amazing Taraji P. Henson.  Although I am happy Viola Davis from How to Get Away with Murder won the Emmy this year—she’s amazing—my Cookie-obsessed heart longed to see Taraji up on that stage. Why? Because Cookie deserves the gold!

Cookie Lyon is one of the best female characters on television right now. She is complex, difficult, but above everything else, she is relatable.  Let me break it down for you as to why Cookie Lyon is hero.

She is fiercely loyal

Cookie went to jail for seventeen years for her ex-husband. She never ratted him out. Not once. In the industry, like in real life, loyalty is a rare commodity. So, Lucious, don’t be surprised that your devoted ex-wife wants a piece of that Empire pie.

She is a fan of love

In the beginning episodes, we see that Cookie still has romantic feelings for Lucious and we can all relate. He then plays her hot and cold, and Cookie is rightfully upset, but we know that they still have love between them. Am I the only one that wants them together again? They would be the ultimate power couple. One thing I learned from Cookie is that when she gives you her heart, she is 100% committed.

Her outfits are on point

Everyone in this show has killer outfits (thanks to costume designer goddess Rita McGhee) but Cookie is in a league of her own. She has a signature: Furs, glasses, and hats. Who can forget her matching leopard outfit? I also love all of Cookie’s accessories. More is more, ladies. Go big or go home.

She accepts people for who they are

In the pilot episode, we see Cookie tell her gay son Jamal that she gets him. She knows he’s different. When Lucious puts a seven year old Jamal in the trash bin, Cookie immediately gets him out, kicking Lucious for trying to “throw” him away. Despite Lucious’ (extremely uncool) homophobia, Cookie always has Jamal’s back.

She has an arsenal of great comebacks

Cookie has thousands of one-liners and snarky comments. Cookie and her female rivals, whether it be Anika (Boo Boo Kitty) or Hakeem’s girlfriend Camilla (her youngest son’s cougar), is snappy as anything. This is where Cookie Lyon really comes out to play. Face it ladies, you are no match for the Queen of “Empire”.

She tells it like it is

Cookie is a fearless woman who can hold her own, whether it involves staring at a couple of dangerous thugs or her ex-husband who runs the most powerful music label. When Cookie has to go into a very shady recording studio on the wrong side of town, she shuts all the loud delinquents down. Cookie will be taken seriously, in heels and leopard print or no. She means business and tells them to recognize since she has plenty of street cred. Throughout the season, you can rely on Cookie to give you the hard truth. She flat out tells numerous musicians that they need to step it up or, in other cases, tells them they have no talent

Cookie Lyon is by no means a perfect role model. She gets violent and wrathful and it’s not all rainbows and puppies. But, despite her flaws, she sticks up for her family, and looks amazing doing it. And she’s a force to be reckoned with. That’s why Cookie is the real hero of ‘Empire’

Ana Christina Perez is a recent screenwriting graduate from Loyola Marymount University.

[Image via Fox]