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10 Reasons Why ‘Empire’s Cookie Lyon is One of the Best Characters on TV

EMPIRE: Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) leads a showcase in the "Our Dancing Days" episode airing Wednesday, Feb. 18 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Chuck Hodes/FOX

First thing’s first. If you have not watched Fox’s Empire in any capacity – I’m going to put this as blunt and straightforward as possible – what the hell are you waiting for?

It’s pretty hard to argue that Empire is anything but the hottest new show on television and a ratings juggernaut. Since its premiere back in January, Empire has increased in both the coveted 18-49 demo and total viewers from week-to-week.

There are a lot of contributing factors to Empire’s immediate success, for one, the music – an intense collaborative effort with producer Timbaland at the helm – is a large part. Another chunk of the show’s captivating flavor comes from sassy mama bear and conquering businesswoman, Cookie Lyon, played by the enrapturing and fiercely talented, Taraji P. Henson.

After serving a 17-year sentence in prison for drug possession, Cookie is on a mission to reclaim her status as a top producer in the music industry and take back what she believes is rightfully hers, half of her ex-husband, Lucious’ musical beast of a company, Empire Industries.

Cookie is a determined woman. ‘No’ is not part of her vocabulary. She works for what she gets and you better not even think about getting in her way of doing so. She is loyal, loves hard and puts her family above all us. All of these qualities have almost instantaneously connected her with fans of the show.

When a character immediately pops and demands your attention from the get-go the way that Cookie has, not only is it hard to look away, but you quickly realize you don’t want to.

Not enough can be said about Henson’s masterful interpretation of Cookie. She’s edgy, strong and confident without being over-the-top, misplaced or mean-spirited. She effortlessly slips in little specks of Cookie’s vulnerabilities without making them seem like weaknesses. And above all else, she portrays Cookie with this intense, underlying and accepting love; it doesn’t slap you in the face as a viewer, but you are well aware of its existence. It’s a love of family and a love of music, shown simultaneously without allowing one to trump the other.

I could go on and on (and have). Cookie is as intriguingly complex as she is sassy. For that reason, and the categorically long list above, she is a large part of why I’m eagerly parked on my couch every Wednesday night ready to take in more.

To that end, prepare to be epically gif-spammed, because here are 10 (there are many, many more, but this article would not doubt transform into the Odyssey if I listed them all) reasons why Cookie Lyon is one of the best characters currently on television.

1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to Cookie. She demands it.

  
Fox / via Tumblr: sandrabbullock    Fox / via Tumblr: sandrabbullock Fox / via Tumblr: gifthetv

Fox / via Tumblr: dailyempiregifs

2. Cookie’s relationship with her son, Jamal, is one of the best aspects of the show. It genuinely explores the kind of unconditional love and support she has to offer. Hakeem…see what you’re missing?


Fox / via Tumblr: irisgibbons

3. She may have been in the slammer for 17 years, but she still knows her stuff – musically and otherwise.

 
Fox / via Tumblr: lyonbrothers


Fox / via Tumblr: dilaurentisfields

4. She dances better than your mom…and probably you.


Fox / via Tumblr: empirefoxtv

5. The outfit doesn’t work her, she works the outfit.

 
Fox / via Tumblr: cookielyonn

6. Anika Calhoun was known as Anika Calhoun for all of five seconds. Forever, #BooBooKitty.


Fox / via Tumblr: empirefoxtv

Fox / via Tumblr: empirefoxtv

7. There are very few (if any) lines she will not cross.

 
Fox / via Tumblr: dailyempiregifs     Fox / via Tumblr: lyonbrothers

Fox / via Tumblr: dailyempiregifs

8. She whips A-listers in to shape.

 
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9. She has no problem saying what’s on her mind.


Fox / via Tumblr: bricesander

Fox / via Tumblr: bricesander

Fox / via Tumblr: bricesander

Fox/ via Tumblr: dailyempiregifs

10. Taraji P. Henson. Enough said.


Fox / via Tumblr: dailyempiregifs

There is no buffer, no filter and no mirage to hide behind. What you see is what you get and that’s why we love her. We also love her killer wardrobe and seriously eye-popping footwear.

With all of the aforementioned properly consumed, it’s easy to see why Cookie Lyon has taken the television world by storm. And judging by the first seven weeks of Empire’s existence, she has no intention of relinquishing her crown anytime soon.

All hail, Queen Cookie.

Are you enjoying Empire? What are your favorite Cookie moments?

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  • Jamie Byrd

    When I 1st saw the title I was like you can only pick Cookie give you 10 new reason every episode. Most of my family watch that show me my mom my sibling cousins aunts and all our fave is Cookie