Brow Beat

Last Night’s Empire Catfight Felt Like a Callback to This Classic Soap Opera Scene

Cookie and Anika mid-catfight.


The season finale of Empire was an attaché case of emotion. Lucious doesn’t really have ALS. Vernon is dead. Andre found religion. These were only a few of the batshit dips and loops of the Lyon rollercoaster. But none of those come close to the pièce de résistance of the entire two hours: the inevitable cat fight between the scrappy Cookie Lyon and the debutante Anika Gibbons.

In its entirety, I’d have to give the tussle a strong 8 out of 10. Anika tried her absolute best to hold her own against Cookie. We all saw those solid rib shots. But when the fight started with a punch that Anika didn’t see coming in the first place followed by a face full of neat liquor, she was destined to lose. Reminder: Cookie did 17 years in the pen. And the pearls. Those poor pearls.

However, let’s take a trip back in time. Back to the NBC daytime soap opera Generations. Very short-lived (March 1989 to January 1991) but groundbreaking in its own right, Generations was the first soap to feature a black American family. Displaying a tried-and-true formula of deceit, foul play, and all-around drama, Generations had everything you’d expect from a soap opera. Including a catfight.

Bear witness as Doreen Jackson (played by Jonelle Allen) and Maya Reubens (played by a young Vivica A. Fox) exchange an expert barrage of tough talk, strategically remove any accessories that may impede their progress, and proceed to rearrange an entire living room for a full minute until Maya’s boyfriend Adam (Kristoff St. John) comes in to end the carnage before any more furniture can be harmed.

Why does the one in red always get it the worst?