If you haven’t heard of #EmpireWednesdays, you must be living under a rock. The hit show that has gained the hearts of millions of viewers is directed by Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious). It is based on the music industry, (particularly Hip-Hop) and stars Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, and Terrance Howard as Lucious Lyon, who play the show’s the main characters. It also features guest cameos from Naomi Campbell, Estelle, Mary J. Blige, and Snoop Dogg, among many other well-known entertainers.
Empire chronicles the lives of the Lyon family and the management of their family business, Empire Entertainment. Lucious is battling the devastating ALS disease and must leave Empire to one of his three sons, Hakeem, Jamal, or Andre. This serves as the shows central conflict and creates much tension between the brothers. Also, Cookie Lyon, his ex-wife, recently finished serving a stint in prison for taking the fall for Lucious’ drug dealing past. Lucious has since moved on to a new woman, Anikka, and becomes engaged to her. This causes conflict for Anikka and Cookie, and they become somewhat jealous of one another, seeing as though Cookie still has feelings for Lucious. At one point, Anikka catches Lucious and Cookie in a compromising position.
To add to the drama, Lucious has always had a difficult time accepting his son Jamal’s sexuality. They are constantly battling one another over this issue, and Jamal finally finds the courage to express his sexuality to the rest of the world. Lucious constantly undermines Jamal’s talent (the man can sing), and makes him feel less worthy of his respect. Jamal is not the only son who has issues with Lucious. Andre, the eldest son, does not have the same talents as his brothers, but has been working on the business side of Empire. He suffers several mental breakdowns throughout the show, and reveals that he feels inadequate because of his lack of musical talent. It is also revealed that he has Bipolar disorder, which has been difficult for the family to accept. He and his wife are both determined to take over Empire. However, Lucious tells him he does not trust him, which really sends him over the edge.
The youngest Lyons son, Hakeem (he has bars by the way), had a very tough time accepting Cookie into his life because she was in prison while he was growing up. However, he eventually warms up to her. To deal with his “mommy issues,” he dates the much older Camilla, played by supermodel Naomi Campbell. This makes for an interesting relationship, seeing as though she is old enough to be his mother and even called her mommy in one of the scenes. He also cheats on his “other” girlfriend, singer Tiana, with Camilla, sending Tiana over the edge (even though she was caught hooking up with a woman).
I believe one of the reasons the show is so successful is because it gives people a little insight into the music industry dealings, and the characters stories are so captivating. Also, there are always twists and turns in the plot, and many steamy scenes that grab people’s attention. The fact that the show has a majority African-American cast is also something to be celebrated, because it diversifies primetime television. The other cool aspect of the show is that you can purchase the music from the series on iTunes, and there is an original soundtrack that has been released. Be sure to get your favorite songs from the show!
If this is not enough to get you intrigued, I don’t know what else will. I won’t spill all the beans on Empire, but I will say it gets better each week and it has broken records in terms of ratings for the Fox network. The two-hour season finale airs this Wednesday, March 18, at 8/7C. Be prepared for numerous surprises and more celebrity cameos from Patti LaBelle and Jennifer Hudson.