Do you watch House of Cards? If so, do you like Claire Underwood?
Look, I know she is not a “good” person. But, does she seem confident? Competent? Likable? Does she need to be a likable character?
Why do I ask? As you know I am working on a novel. A friend told me that my character Gina Caruso is not likeable. As my friend put it Gina is focused on herself, work, sex and family in that order.
I at first thought that would be a problem for a female character. For a male lawyer character it would be ok. After all, some of the most likable and admired men in the world who are focused on themselves, work, sex and family in that order. I suspect you can think of a few.
In one of the North Texas University classes I am taking our assignment was to tell what our passion was for writing our novel and what our theme of the novel is. Here is what I shared:
Passion: The challenge faced by women lawyers to succeed and thrive in the male dominated profession with male dominated clients.
Theme: In 2015 Women lawyers still have fewer opportunities to advance, are judged by different standards leading to greater scrutiny of professional and personal life and are under great pressures to be successful while raising a family.
With that passion and theme, do you think it is important that Gina Caruso be likeable? Can she be like Jessica Pearson? Alicia Florick? Claire Underwood?
As you are pondering the idea, take a look at a Slate post: What’s So Bad About Likable Women? And if we like an unlikable woman, doesn’t that make her likable? Here is a quote:
There has long been a plague of poorly developed female characters outfitted with symbols of likability—good looks, one-liners, adorable flaws—instead of personalities.
Claire Underwood may be an unlikeable woman, but I like her and I believe Robin Wright is brilliant in her portrayal. Check out this recent Vanity Fair article: Robin Wright on Her Role as Claire Underwood and Her Marriage to Sean Penn. Wright describes Claire:
Claire Underwood has been described as manipulative, ruthless, and calculating, but Wright doesn’t really see her that way. “I can’t see her as evil and cunning. To me, she’s utilitarian and efficient,” Wright said between sips of tea.
I also give great credit to the costume designer. Here is another quote from the Vanity Fair article:
Her wardrobe, by first-season costume designer Tom Broecker, is a study in muted elegance, by way of Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Armani, and Zac Posen.
Since I like the character, the actress and the wardrobe I decided to look for more. I found 6 Reasons Claire Underwood From House Of Cards Is The Anti-Hero We Need And Deserve. What are the 6 reasons? Would they make her a lawyer who would appeal to clients?
- Claire Underwood is the definition of ambition, and she does not care if you like it. I liked this quote: “Claire clutches to her power by any means necessary, and while I certainly don’t support the majority of her actions, her sheer conviction in achieving her goals is wildly admirable, undoubtedly brave, and absolutely terrifying.”
- Claire supports her husband Frank, but never at the detriment of her own goals.
- Dat. Wardrobe. Doe. Those expertly tailored pants. Those crisp Oxford shirts. THAT STRAPLESS SILVER DRESS FROM THE CWI FUNDRAISER… Even Claire’s running clothes are more chic than literally anything I own or ever will own.
- Claire will not abide thirst.
- Underneath her hard exterior, she does have a heart.
- She understands the importance of physical fitness.
If you are a House of Cards fan, what do you think? Is she likeable? Do you like her in spite of her being unlikeable? Most important is she an interesting character?