ETA: *MANY EXPLETIVES* Pictures are entirely out of whack!! How do I fix?!
In order of bestest to best!! According to my own (limited) watch list. Got some? Add 'em!!
1. Agent Melinda May - I have in the past extolled the virtues of this perfect specimen of femininity. She is the complete aspirational package: disciplined, controlled, intelligent, independent, righteous, funny, caring, loyal, and sassy. Melinda thinks for herself, takes care of her team, and makes sure shit stays right. Thanks to Ming-Na Wen, Agent May has so much personality and charisma that just a mere look conveys so much of what the character is feeling.
2. Cookie - OMG, what can be said about the fabulous and courageous Cookie Lyon?! This woman owns any space she occupies just through sheer presence. Her fashion is on point (I mean how many women can rock animal print on the regular?). Cookie is raw emotion, what she feels in heart and soul she puts out there fearlessly. She puts up with no bullshit and lives honestly. She speaks the truth and demands the same in return. She is ambitious and capable and not only launched that useless hubbies career but survived a jail sentence and remained whole. I'm going to put forward her love of Jamal as well and how she nutures and supports him to be his whole self. Points for beating that damn big headed Hakeem with the broom and for loving him anyway. Minus for that poor older son. Does no one love him?! I can't even remember his name. Thanks to Taraji P Henson for bringing so much love and dignity into a character that, in the wrong hands, could be a caricature.
3. Claire Underwood - Dang! Do not mess with this Washington WASP. She is BAMF. Claire has it all: a devoted husband ("I love that woman more than a shark loves blood."), an open marriage, wealth, influence and power. She stands BY her man and makes it clear that she will not put her needs behind that of her ever ambitious husband. Another woman who is very much in control of her image and emotions she is a pragmatic person who thinks before she acts and who carries herself with poise and dignity. Okay, she may have made some major sacrifices to get where she is but SHE made those sacrifices. Claire chooses her choice and no one can stop her. Not even Francis. Big ups to Robin Wright for her portrayal of what could easily be a wooden and unlikable character. She really infuses the soul into Claire and balances out the cold demeanor.
4. Mellie Grant - First Lady my ass! Pure presidential material here folks!! I love this woman. She is open and honest. Another woman, like cookie, who is not afraid to show emotion, to release the raw power of their anger or love in order to get the job done. Mellie is far more savvy and politically intelligent than her man and it is her who really keeps that White House going. Sure, she has to play the woman behind the man but anyone on the inside knows the truth because Mellie doesn't let them forget it. She has drawn her line and the sand and made her demands. Mellie for Pres 2016!! Credit to Bellamy Young who can really bring the pain. Bellamy has really brought such tenderness and strength to that role.
6. Abbie Mills - Here is another fully rounded character. She is a balance of pragmatism and emotional intelligence. She uses both her heart and her mind to make the tough decisions and solve the tough problems. She has a strong connection with her sister, which she worked towards because she valu.ed the bond. She speaks with honesty and clarity and casts aside her fears and doubts. There is a lot of strength in being so openly oneself and being so willing to trust those around you to help when you need it. But make no mistake you don't mess with this BAMF or her family, she'll take you out. Nicole Beharie does a fantastic job of keeping Abbie both serious and light, she has wonderful knack of knowing just how to keep Detective Mills human and grounded.
7. Jeannie Van Der Hooven - I don't even know where to begin with this peach. I mean...shiiiiiiiit. She scares me. She owns everything. She is THE boss. She is so supremely fucked up that there isn't enough therapy to set her straight. She is cruel, self absorbed, insecure, and a train wreck but...but...she is powerful and outrageous. She makes the tough decisions and lives with the consequences. She isn't hiding and she isn't letting anyone stand in her way. I love this woman so much. I love that she is tough as nails and vulnerable in the same breath. I love that she slays competition. I love that she puts herself first. I love that she makes these mad mistakes because she is so insecure and uncertain and I love that she speaks the truth. Love. Kristen Bell just keeps choosing these great female characters to portray and she is so damn good at it. Just keep it coming KB
8. Fiona and V - A strong female friendship. These women separately are the great blue collar heroes of their 'hood. They are grounded in reality and taking each day as it comes. They are the centre of their families and have the strength and love to keep things going especially when the chips are down. But together? These BFF's are inspiration to us all. No judging just all love and support. They take of each other and respect each others choices. These women hold each other together and keep each other honest. It's one true bright spot on otherwise depressingly humorous show. Kudos to Emmy Rossum and Shanola Hampton.