Statuesque, self-controlled and smart… are you sure you wouldn’t drop to your knees for her?
Somewhere between night shifts, day shifts, weekend shifts and house parties, I have introduced my new flatmate to House of Cards (admittedly, the awesome American version). Needless to say he is hooked. Watching the series a second time round (what can I say, I binge-watched season three during a set of weekend nights instead of sleeping) has made the whole plot easier to understand. More than that, it has given me a whole new appreciation of Claire Underwood and her role in the fascinating relationship that is the bedrock of the series.
***Do not read further if you have not seen it unless you aren’t going to (contains spoilers).***
I am always on the look out for interesting female characters in popular culture – and Claire Underwood pretty much takes the title. It is no secret that the entire series is about the Frank and Claire’s quest for power, neatly summed up by the series tagline, “behind every great man is a woman with blood on her hands”. So apart from all of her obvious attributes; beautiful, calm, collected… and her infamous Machiavellian qualities, which may not be desirable but are definitely oddly attractive, here are three qualities that would make her an intimidatingly (potentially awesome) top.
Claire has more self-control than possibly any other female character in a television series. She has an iron grip on her emotions and even her moments of weakness are carefully shielded. She is spectacularly complex and her emotional outlet tends to be under the cover of darkness – long midnight runs in the rain and smoking with Frank in the early hours of the morning… You can imagine that other nightly pursuits may interest her as well… just saying.
Even more than her murderous husband, she can control her emotions, allowing them out when it serves her purpose. She is a character who clearly understands that power wielded quietly is more potent than brazen displays. The control of an effective top is an art form, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt… and you have to admit that anyone with that kind of strength is oddly intoxicating. Plus, she has steel patience and an incisive mind to boot.
Certainly can’t deny this one… she is calm, cool, collected and full of self-confidence. She may take time to deliberate, on occasions, but she does not hesitate in her decisions or in her acceptance of the consequences of her actions. At so many points within this series she has not flinched from making difficult choices, even when they go against her ruthless husband’s ambitions. Walking away from the White House at the end of season 3 is probably the most empowering and thrilling moment of the entire series. And she does it with impeccable style in Louboutins (actually I can’t remember what she wears for that scene, but she wears Louboutins most of the time so its a fair guess).
Now this is probably the most important quality, tempering her ice queen power-hungry control; certainly compassion is the most important quality for a top of any description, fictional or otherwise. It may seem like a difficult sell for a character with so much blood on her hands, and who is so infamously heartless, but Claire has the capacity for compassion that is often derided by her husband. Though it is subtle, the writers of the show take the time to develop a sense of Claire’s humanity, in otherwise unnecessary scenes which do not forward the plot. Yes, she is cutthroat and ruthless and has chosen her politically ambitious life with Francis, but there are moments of genuine reflection – moments that are all the more powerful for the fact that she faces the choices that she has made. There are occasions when her vulnerability and compassion erode through her control; nightmares about the children of the murdered senator Russo being an example. Though it is evidently incredibly rare for anyone to hold Claire’s affection, she appears to have the capacity for love. More powerfully than anything else, it is undeniable that if she loved you, not only would she hold you to the highest standard, but she would be your strongest and most unfaltering ally.
Okay, so she is admittedly terrifying, and a complex, ambitious individual… but maybe that is why she is so seductive. Characters like this should be written more often. But really… if Claire Underwood took you to her bedroom in the White House and compelled you to worship her, would you be able to resist?
(I’d probably run a thousand miles).
Oh… and those glasses. Another good reason to watch.
I’m always on the search for intriguing female characters in pop-culture, please share if you have any suggestions?