Laura Moon is not your “iconic badass female character” at all, and I’d appreciate it if white women stopped pretending otherwise.
I do think it’s important and necessary to portray female characters who are complex, flawed, selfish, dangerous, and even a bit villainous. I also think it’s crucial to represent female characters with mental illnesses properly. So yes, in that sense, Laura is written quite well. Her depression is not aestheticized or glorified in the slightest, nor is it fetishized for a male viewing audience. She’s not a typical wife to a male protagonist because she is dangerous, she is apathetic, she is both a liar and casually blunt, she is self-aware, and she is cynical. These are not typical traits for the love interests of male characters. I get that.
But Laura is also meant to be a character you dislike, or, at the very least, one that you should have quite a difficult time empathizing with. Not only did she cheat on her husband - she cheated on him with his best friend, a man who also happened to be her best friend’s husband. Her selfish desires caused Shadow to get imprisoned, and she committed adultery while he was in prison because she lied to both Shadow and to herself when she said she could wait for him. She chose temporary relief over honesty. She treated Shadow apathetically, selfishly, and patronizingly, and in fact even after her death she continues to condescend to Shadow and expects him to be at her beck and call. She was callous and flippant with a god (Mr. Jacquel, AKA Anubis) and expected him to listen to her whims. Mr. Jacquel is a serious but compassionate person - if even someone like him is irritated by her actions, then you know that Laura is not a nice or good person at all.
You don’t need to justify her behavior. You need to accept that she’s a selfish and bad person. If you truly want complicated and different female characters, you cannot spend time trying to prettify or justify their awful behavior.
Audrey, who justifiably hates Laura, still cares for her because Laura, albeit her actions, was her best friend. It’s difficult to fully hate someone when you found out about their death and their adultery at the same time. But she has no qualms about letting Laura know what she truly thinks about her. And she’s right - Laura did not love Shadow. Laura did not treat him properly. Laura was selfish. Laura is still selfish. Laura thinks of nothing but herself, and it doesn’t matter that she’s depressed; depression does not excuse treating your loved ones like toys to play with or manipulate.
The only reason any of you are justifying Laura’s behavior is because Shadow is black. The protagonist of the show is a black man, and that’s exactly why you think the show is only good now that Laura is on it. I’ve seen people say “well the show passes the Bechdel test because of Laura now”. Setting aside the sad reality that the Bechdel Test was created by a lesbian to measure lesbian representation (so the show doesn’t actually pass the test since there are currently no lesbian characters on it), there are actually interesting and unique female characters already. These same fans who are touting Laura Moon as the height of “revolutionary” female representation ignore Bilquis.
If Shadow was a white man, he’d definitely get more sympathy from white fans. Conversely, if Laura was a black woman, she’d get villainized by the same people who are currently defending her. Or alternatively, if Shadow had cheated on Laura, he would be deemed persona non grata by these “Laura defense squad” type fans. Hell, if Shadow was a white man, white fans would not be saying that the show was “boring” until Laura came along - they’d hype it up from the get go.
This show is incredibly important because the main character is a black man who isn’t reduced to stereotypes at all, and it’s important because it has many characters of color who are written well and aren’t typecast into boring roles. Laura Moon is not what makes this show great. Sure, she’s one example of the great writing behind the show precisely because she’s such a challenging character to figure out and analyze. But even her actress, Emily Browning, acknowledges that she is supposed to be a character you have a hard time liking or empathizing with. Do not excuse her actions or lessen the degree of hurt she caused.