Before Empire premiered, and began snatching up the highest network television ratings in nearly a decade, I was under the impression that Cersei Lannister was the most vile character on television. Though I've been watching her for five seasons on HBO's Game of Thrones, I still hold my breath whenever she's onscreen. She has had some horrific things happen to her, but her callous behavior leaves little room for me to feel any sympathy towards her. Still, despite the many heinous things Cersei has done, Empire's Lucious Lyon may very well give her a run for her money. Where Cersei's nasty attitude comes through in her exquisite manipulating skills, Lucious is straightforward about his ill-intentions and poor character. But is Cersei or Lucious the more evil character on television?
While they are both awful human beings, Lucious and Cersei use their power for different reasons. As awful as Cersei is, she loves her children (even that despicable psychopath Joffrey), and many of her decisions are to ensure their safety. On the other hand, Lucious is willing to sacrifice everything for his business — including his family. Still, both characters are driven by status, greed and power. Since Cersei is a woman living in a barbaric time, she often tries to hide her true intentions beneath a mask of forced grace and femininity. As a man living in 21st century America, Lucious doesn't have to worry about that.
Unsurprisingly, both Cersei and Lucious' monstrous actions have finally landed them in jail cells. However, I wouldn't throw a parade just yet. Since they are both wickedly good at manipulating situations, I don't expect either of them will be locked away for too long. Once they are released, I think it's best that we all take cover, because they will both be drunk with rage and the desire for revenge. Until that day comes, let's determine whether the CEO of Empire Entertainment or the Queen Mother is the better villan.
Actual Murder: Advantage Lucious
Though Cersei's actions have led to many beheadings, deaths and imprisonments, she has never actually killed someone with her own hands. Meanwhile, Lucious had no issue with murdering his oldest friend in cold blood in the very first episode.
Poor Child-Rearing: Advantage Both
During a flashback on Empire, Lucious dumped Jamal in the trash because he'd tried on his mother's pumps and scarf. The act was so horrific, I was near tears. Not to be outdone, Cersei once slapped Joffrey so hard that his head flung back. (He might have deserved it, but still.)
Sacrificing Family: Advantage Cersei
Though Lucious lets Cookie take the fall for a crime that they both committed, he never tried to kill her. On the other hand, Cersei is so bloodthirsty following Joffrey's death that she tries to get Tyrion beheaded for a crime she knows he did not commit.
Tangible Power: Advantage Lucious
Cersei doesn't win this round because she's a product of her time. All of her evil plotting has to be done behind the scenes because misogyny and sexism run rampant in the Seven Kingdoms. On the other hand, Lucious uses his position of power to crush others every chance that he gets.
One-Liners: Advantage Cersei
Though Lucious is always quick to let his sons know when they have disappointed him, it's Cersei's biting quips that leave me breathless once she walks off screen.
Follow Through: Advantage Lucious
As I've stated before, as deliciously evil as Cersei is, her actions are only able to go as far as she is able to manipulate the men around her. Lucious has an entire arsenal at his disposal, and he uses everything he has to shut down Anika when she defects to Creedmoor Records.
From what we've learned here, it looks like Lucious and Cersei are both equally diabolical. However, I would argue that, if Cersei had the advantages of a modern woman living in the Western world, she could crush Empire's patriarch with her pinky finger.
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