Got a chance to watch Empire Thurs night and dayam. Now, there’s a lot of shows that I love and am a big fan of, but this is the first must-see show that’s aired in a long time, at least for me. Of course, with Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard as the powerhouse leads – Cookie and Lucious Lyon respectively – that should come as a surprise to absolutely no one.
The set-up: Lucious runs/owns a billion dollar music company (with all that entails) and he’s decided it’s time to take the company public and see which of his three sons will inherit his position. Cookie is released from prison after seventeen years and comes back to take half of what she considers rightfully hers. The reunion between Cookie and Lucious, as well as Cookie and her sons is unlike any I’ve seen on tv, that’s for sure.
This is Old School family drama in the vein of Dallas or Dynasty. Or, perhaps more accurately, Game of Thrones without the dragons and swords. When the stakes are this high on the financial and personal level, everyone’s capable of anything. Adding to that atmosphere is Cookie and Lucious former gangster life; they are not afraid to use violence to get what they want or protect what’s theirs. And the sons aren’t immune, either. As Jamal says to Lucious upon his declaration of finding an heir, “What is this, we King Lear now?”
The writing on this show is as outstanding as the acting and directing. The depth to these characters hooked me from the start and will certainly keep me coming back every week.
Central to the show is, of course, music and two of the three sons are performers. Hakeem (Bryshere Gray aka Yazz the Greatest) has a rap that just doesn’t quit and Jamal’s (Jussie Smollett) voice is absolutely gorgeous. I will be checking out their music asap. The third brother, Andre (Trai Byers) might not perform, but he’s got Cookie’s ruthlessness mixed with Lucious’s business savvy, which is a treat to watch all on its own.
Another significant plotline is Jamal being gay. Not in an, “I’m coming out way,” because everyone already knows. It’s about the torturous relationship he has with Lucious and the contradictory relationship he’s got with Cookie as well as how it affects him as a performer. The best thing about this plotline is how matter-of-fact it is. It’s not played up or down. It just is.
Everyone needs to watch this show and I mean now.