Alternatively titled “Why this spoiled brat may turn into my favorite character yet.”
The narrative of the show so far really, really wants us to hate Chloé. At every possible turn she is painted as an evil brat, she is a central cause of approximately a billion akumatizations, she’s a direct antagonist of the main character, and oh my god does she need more love from this fandom.
Chloé Bourgeois’ mother is either dead or so far absent from her life that she might as well be. Her father believes in buying love (and elections), and has never once been shown to be fair or reasonable to his enemies. Her singular parental unit has taught her that you show affection with gifts and by targeting others with abuse on the behalf of the person you like. That ‘popularity’ and 'success’ and ‘wealth’ and 'happiness’ are all synonyms. She has a large, empty room and an absentee father. In all likelihood she’s modeled her friendship with Sabrina based on how her father treats Sabrina’s father. She has no working model of a healthy relationship of any sort, and every single interaction with her peers crumbles into antagonistic or unhealthy crap almost immediately.
The only way Chloé knows how to express affection is through extravagant gifts and photo-op style physical attention - gee I wonder who she learned that from - because she has absolutely no working examples of functional relationships in her life. She’s almost uncomfortably uninterested in Adrien’s lack of emotional response to her advances. (Adrien, whose father won’t let him have birthday parties and discourages emotional response at all.) She takes a truly incredible amount of advantage of Sabrina’s need to please. (Sabrina, whose idea of friendship is borderline-stalkerish and gets passionately, almost violently upset if you don’t accept her gifts.) If she were a grown adult who knew better I wouldn’t hesitate to dismiss her as a villain, but here’s the thing, she’s not. She’s a young teenager who has never had a single healthy relationship in her life, and this isn’t exactly her fault.
You know what’s really, really interesting to me, though? The similarities between Chloé and Adrien. Both raised by a single, wealthy father figure with no mother present in their lives, both raised primarily by an employee of their father - Chloé has the staff of her father’s hotel, Adrien has his father’s personal assistant - both are completely spoiled in terms of material wealth but entirely neglected emotionally, and both are expected to be the embodiment of perfection by their fathers. Chloé was Adrien’s only friend before he started school.
The singular, grand distinction between Chloé and Adrien - how one is an unrepentant BITCH and the other is a sweet sunshine child - is self esteem. Chloé KNOWS she deserves better, and acts accordingly - as best she knows how, that is. Adrien has No Clue his home life is less than ideal - besides the absence of his mother, that is. He thinks that not being allowed a birthday party is a reasonable thing, and he responds with depression symptoms and internalizing his feelings. Neither of these children are emotionally healthy and it just goes to show that “Anything for my princess” can be just as damaging of an attitude for a parent to take as “That’s enough emotions for today” - because neither of those attitudes are a substitute for actually parenting your child.
The thing that kills me though, is that while she may not know how to interact with her friends, or other human beings for that matter, and her sense of right and wrong is about as functional as you can expect the child of a politician to get, she wants to be a good person.
For fun, with her singular trusted friend or just alone in her bedroom,
pretends to be the heroine of Paris. She sees what Ladybug and Chat Noir are doing and recognizes them above all others as heroes, as people to be emulated, and even though she has literally no idea how to be a good person, she so desperately WANTS to be a good person - a person like Ladybug - that she doesn’t correct people when they think she is ladybug.
- little miss do you know who I am, I will call my father - freely tosses her own identity out the window in favor of walking in those shoes for just a split second, and the notion that Ladybug rejects her as a friend or doesn’t like her is emotionally distressing enough to cause her to be akumatized.
And like. Chloé has every reason to dislike Chat Noir and Ladybug, if you think about it, because her authority among her peers is based on her father being the mayor. These two vigilante heroes running around Paris SERIOUSLY undermine the authority of the legitimate government. Chloé doesn’t care, she loves them anyway - which is kind of profound, considering.
It’s hard to imagine that Chloé‘s going to remain a villain and main antagonist on this scale as things progress. She’s primed for a redemption arc. Her place as secondary-antagonist within the narrative is already threatened by Volpina/Lila, and while Lila’s motivations will be revenge, it’s really hard to see Chloé’s motivations as anything more than a misguided sense of self-esteem. Chloé doesn’t do what she does because being evil is fun, she does what she does because she doesn’t understand how else to interact with people. I would honestly be disappointed if the narrative doesn’t do something amazing with her character.