I Will Be #TeamCersei Until The End, Hear Me Out
You’ve read the headline, you’re angry, you’re no doubt a Game of Thrones fan who thinks Cersei Lannister is nothing but evil – but you’re wrong, oh so very wrong.
Having not watched Game of Thrones until only a month ago – yes I squeezed in all seven seasons, ask my colleagues – I found myself rooting for just a handful of characters; Cersei, Jaime, The Hound and Bronn.
Daenerys and Jon Snow – typical television ‘good guys’ and pretty boring. ‘The Imp’ aka Tyrion, he’s ok, he’s had some good lines, but meh. Sean Bean is dead so there goes another goodun gone, and who does that leave us with?
Don’t even get me started on the bumbling fool that is Samwell Tarly. Sansa is a sap, and all of this stems from her lying about a poor pup for the sake of marrying Joffrey – excellent call Sansa, top work.
But back to Cersei…
Yes she’s acted in cruel and unkind – very unkind – ways, but are you forgetting all she’s endured? Let’s start from the beginning then shall we.
Firstly, her mother died in childbirth with her youngest brother (Tyrion). Her father gave away her daughter, who was later killed while attempting to return from Dorne, and her eldest son was poisoned in front of her on his wedding day, in a graphic, slow and painful manner. Her youngest brother (Tyrion), then killed her father, and her youngest son, who went on to become King, died by suicide. Oh, and did I mention she was raped by her brother Jaime?
Forget your Dear Deidre problems or Jeremy Kyle sagas, what Cersei has been through is enough to make anyone feel justifiably unhinged.
Even Lena Headey, who plays the consistently incredible Cersei, reiterates my point. She sees her as an enormously paranoid and lonely woman, a bit extreme, but certainly not rotten to the core.
Speaking to The National Post, she gave some insight of her character’s origins and mentality:
I always think of Cersei as a wayward 15 year old who’s never had any real parenting. (With her father gone) she’s driven by a desire to find Tyrion and kill him. That’s all she wants to do is have him gone.
I love Cersei, I love playing her and I’ve always said it: She’s just driven by the need to be a great parent and, like most of us who are parents, she’s not perfect. Slightly more extreme than the rest of us, hopefully. She lives in her own paranoia and that drives her forward.
To play somebody who’s deeply flawed and yet presents themselves as this image of perfection when underneath there’s this deep paranoia — all of the shit she’s trying to contain and ride and just tell herself it’s all going to be alright.
That’s what she tells herself and believes more than anybody I know in this world. She knows she will just survive. Unless she kills herself. That’s her only option for death. Which, if all her children die, it would be a large consideration.
Alas, the generic reputation she has for being a bloodthirsty, power-mongering, vicious woman, is harsh. Which leads me on to my point for #TeamCersei.
When Cersei was young, she had no choice but to marry an uncouth, uncivilised, and unfaithful husband. Ultimately being forced to live in a loveless marriage, for the sake of politics across the seven kingdoms.
Despite being perhaps the most capable Lannister, because of her gender, society gave her no power, no property, and certainly no title of any worth. Just a woman, who, despite showing she has potential to be a powerful leader, is trapped among a sexist society, classed simply as a ‘horse to be ridden’.
But Cersei, as she’s demonstrated in past conversations with her father, is only too aware of this unjust system, and has therefore had to battle more than anyone – for the sake of herself, her family, and the Iron Throne.
This type of society forced Cersei to throw aside her dreams, all to allow men to pursue theirs. And now, because she ignores patriarchy and tradition, and her family is decimated – even Jaime has turned his back on her, choosing to ride North – she’s now free to take power once denied to her, and exact revenge.
I don’t blame her, and it’s a two-fingered salute to all she’s ever been told.
Cersei’s story could be construed as a typical one of female revenge, one we often see across film and television; Thelma and Louise, The Crush, Fatal Attraction, etc.
Women are depicted as emotionally unstable, vindictive, with jealousy the driving force for their actions, and while some of those traits will play a part for Cersei, people seem to have a problem with her ‘masucline’ portrayal.
Had Cersei’s character been male, there would be no caveats about her status. Historically, even in literacy, figures such as Lady Macbeth are tarred with the brush of evilness. Manipulative women who will stop at nothing to get what they want, despite it all eventually being too much for them. If Cersei was male, she’d have been regarded as a ruthless, dominant leader, a fearful one.
Why is it ambitious women are sinister, not to be rooted for or trusted, but an ambitious man is determined, strong-willed, and courageous?
My point is reiterated by the fact the rest of the female characters in the show have all shown a sinister side centred heavily around revenge, yet they’re not shown the same levels of hatred as Cersei.
Arya Stark – a character seemingly loved by the majority – lethally counts down a list of victims who get what they supposedly deserve when she kills them. Olenna Tyrell and Ellaria Sand seek revenge against Cersei for killing their loved ones – they’re fighting for family, why can’t Cersei?
Sansa Stark exacts revenge on Ramsay Bolton for torturing her, while Daenerys Targaryen burns alive a woman who causes the death of her husband, Khal Drogo, not to mention the other murders she’s carried out across the seven series.
Even back when Catelyn Stark was alive, she was another female within the show who was fiercely loyal and protective of her family, just like Cersei.
Cersei may have killed dozens of innocent people to ensure her son Joffrey got the crown, but her root of motivation is love and security.
Lastly, has Queen Cersei not paid for her sins?
Her walk of atonement saw her stripped naked, hair chopped off, forced to walk the streets for all to see, and for all to judge.
While all men must die, it seems for women – well Cersei, the only one whose walk of atonement was perpetrated on any considerable scale – the women must be shamed and dehumanised. By this point, hadn’t she experienced enough pain and loss? Perhaps the first time, we see the true levels of her vulnerability.
Excrement, filth, and insults come her way, being heckled by naked prostitutes and men flashing her. The importance of this scene shows Cersei is no better than any of us. She’s just a human being, but a frail woman and it’s what she’s been disguising underneath her cloaks, gowns, and luscious locks of blonde hair.
So, as we head into season eight, Cersei has evidently done enough to reach the throne, but what will she do now she’s sat upon it, and will she stay there?
We’ve seen cracks appearing in her powerful demeanor, and many fans think this is a sign – like the original prophecy she was given – she’ll be killed, and by her brother.
But this is Game of Thrones, and anything can happen. Maybe we’ll see a full U-turn of her character, like we’ve come to be fond of Jaime. Perhaps the others will die and she’ll be the last woman standing? Maybe she becomes the Night King’s Warden of the South? Unlikely, but who actually knows?
If she is set for a gruesome and fateful demise, I’m sure most of you will cheer, but losing a character like Cersei would mark the end of the show’s most complex and misunderstood character.
You could argue – if only on the surface – she deserves to be the most hated woman this side of Westeros, but her at-times questionable moral compass keeps things far from black and white.
Formed by her troubled past and fueled by a distinctly feminine strength, Cersei isn’t quite the evil, Lady Macbeth-esque character she appears on the surface. As treacherous and cunning as she is broken and loyal, Cersei is such a compelling character, and the method to her madness is one you’re all rooting for – whether you want to admit it or not.
She no longer feels anything but contempt for the world, the world which has caused her so much pain. Let her succeed in gaining the Iron Throne, it’s what she deserves.
#TeamCersei ’till the end!
Game of thrones returns to HBO tonight April 14, while UK viewers can tune in during the early hours of Monday morning courtesy of Sky Atlantic
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