|They Call Her the Jackal: Top 10 Reasons why CJ Cregg is Best TV Character Ever
||[Feb. 4th, 2011|01:03 am]
~*~Allison Janney Fans~*~
This is my first proper (non-comment) LJ post ever! (That explains my pictures and stuff look a little shabby). I figured that my favorite TV character and a truly awesome woman made a great first post! So why I love me some Claudia Jean!
1. CJ is completely unique. She’s a heroine who does not fall back on the standard “heroine tropes” like:
a. Being one half of the show’s major “will they, won’t they” ship. You could remove Danny, Simon, Ben and all other romances from her life and she would still be an awesome character.
b. Having such a difficult and painful life that the audience has no choice but to like her. CJ’s life is glamorous and enviable and even more important, fundamentally rewarding to herself and others. That actually is why the audience is supposed to like her- no manufactured sympathy required.
c. Bashing the other characters so she comes off looking the best. CJ travels in a world of exceptional people and their “give and take” and relationships are the focus- not fluffing one particular character.
Disclaimer: I have loved female characters whose lives were marked by tragedy or were part of their show’s/book’s/movie’s big ‘ship. However, I have to give CJ major credit for being so anti-cliché that she doesn’t fall back on any of these common tropes for lead heroines.
2. Despite her considerable accomplishments, she’s always trying to be better. Before the series even started, many would have felt that they achieved everything they needed professionally with a Masters from Berkley and a $550,000 salary. Not CJ, who actually wants to do something meaningful with her life. During her entire time on the show, she grows into a supremely confident and poised Press Secretary. Once she masters being Press Secretary, she grows into an extraordinarily competent and accomplished Chief of Staff even faced with betrayal, a hemorrhaging staff, a degenerating president and a massive war between major nuclear powers.
3. CJ cares for both the leader and the issues. She loves President Bartlet, as a man and as a brilliant president. Not to bash Josh and Toby, but CJ deserves extra credit by contrast for never resenting the fact that Bartlet’s deteriorating health weakened the presidency. She asks and cares about his health and feelings frequently. However, that doesn’t mean that she won’t challenge him on not releasing an honest sex education report, not notifying Americans that their beef may be infected with Mad Cow disease, making military arrangements with repressive regimes, the need for a gas tax to offset the deficit and protect the environment and so on.
4. CJ has a superb sense of humor in every way imaginable. She can be the dazzling, sophisticated and urbane wit with the same equanimity and joy as being the clown with a pie in her face. It’s astounding that she has some of the wittiest and most elegant comic lines on top of things like turkeys in her office, falling in pools, speaking with her mouth full of cotton after “woot cannow” surgery. High brow and low brow humor mix beautifully together with her.
5. CJ’s femininity is an asset to her strength. There’s no nonsense like, “CJ overcomes her gender’s weaknesses to be strong and powerful.” Typically "feminine" traits like charm, style, grace, empathy and an excellent sense of humor are considered feminine and as such, they’re diminished as delightful on the beauty pageant circuit but not critical to national security. That is false in CJ’s case. Her typically derided as feminine assets become important to shaping the political message at crucial points and managing the largest military in our history.
6. She plays to win and that’s fine by everyone. This is an idealized administration and CJ’s instinctive niceness does get her far. However, there are still times that politics requires a certain amount of bitchiness. CJ threatens to shove a motherboard up Josh’s ass, puts the fear of the almighty in Sherri and Chris Whitaker, bars Corey Sykes from entertaining at a dinner, plays the hardnosed pragmatist to those protesting Darfur and lies to the press or obfuscates the truth on a number of occasions. The show honestly displays these less than attractive moments of hers but we’re never supposed to diminish her as a bitch by playing by the same rules as male politicians.
7. CJ cares about people on every level. She has incredibly rich and fascinating relationships with her friends and family. She broadly cares about people that she’s never met from the women of Qumar to the murdered kids of Kundu to students who are shy about raising their hands and participating in class to tornado victims. Then in between, she becomes involved in the well-being of acquaintances. She cares about whether at-risk Anthony has a Big Brother and she goes beyond “crazy lady on a White House tour” to becoming involved in returning stolen artwork from the Holocaust. Reporter Bill Price may have made her life difficult but she becomes personally invested in finding out what happened to him and making his wife as comfortable as possible.
8. She’s independent minded. She has enough education and experience to form her basic opinions and she stays true to them. However when she learns new information, she has both the intelligence and humility to change her mind. She reacts to new information whether it’s big and angsty like Mr. Lydell’s correctness in calling out the administration for a weak gay rights position, procedural and important like taking Cliff’s suggestions on lobbying for desalination or small and quirky like the need for a Wolves Only Highway and Maps for Social Equality.
9. She's brilliant and the ironic thing is that we're really not often *told* about how brilliant CJ is. The show just on the sheer surface text will poke fun at CJ much more often than it will rhapsodize poetic about her intelligence. Instead of being told how smart CJ is, we just see it all the damn time which is even better. We see it in how she anticipates the opposition's moves and strategies. How she learns and masters information in a blink of an eye. Her astounding emotional intelligence. Heck, even the delightful trivia that makes up "Claudia's Useless House of Knowledge".
10. Allison Janney is a six-foot tall, forty-something character actress who was presented as the desirable, beautiful heroine on a network TV show. That’s what I call progress.