Fox’s Empire Rules Wednesday Night


Courtesy of Fox

Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard as their characters Cookie and Luscious.

Helen Burdier, Entertainment Editor

It’s not all glitz and glam in the new Fox hip-hop soap opera Empire. The show, created by The Butler director Lee Daniels, plays up the tropes seen in the hip-hop music industry.

The drama focuses on the Lyon family, whose patriarch is the head of Empire Entertainment and represents the rags-to-riches stereotype in the hip hop industry. Luscious Lyon, who is played by Terrance Howard, is a former drug dealer, turned rapper, turned mogul. Beneath his jack-of-all-trades exterior, Lyon is battling ALS and discovers he has less than three years to live and must choose a successor from his three sons.

The Lyon boys are also symbols of the music industry. The oldest son, Andre, is the business savvy cold-hearted type and should logically run the company but lacks creativity. The other two sons, Hakeem and Jamal, are both aspiring artists. Hakeem represents the party-crazed young-money reckless rappers, while Jamal represents the gifted raw talented artists. Despite his artistry, Luscious doesn’t support  Jamal because he is gay, the intolerance becoming clear to viewers from a flashback scene of Luscious throwing Jamal in a trash can for wearing women’s clothing.

While the drama is full of testosterone, they’re just living in Taraji P. Henson’s shadow. Henson plays the matriarch of the family, Cookie, who audiences see released from prison after seventeen years for selling drugs to support Luscious’ career and start up Empire Entertainment. She’s seen strutting out of the prison, in a fur coat and heels, and stomping her way into Luscious’ office to demand what’s hers.

As said in the novel Anna Karenina, every unhappy family is unhappy in it’s own way. For the Lyon’s, it’s not remote hogging or tattle-telling, instead the family has a vengeful prison released mother and a dying father igniting sibling rivalry.

By the end of the pilot, Luscious and Cookie both agree to split up Hakeem and Jamal and manage their careers separately.

The show marks Fox’s highest ratings in years for a new series, beating out the pilot of the Batman prequel Gotham in fall. Empire also beat Modern Family, which it shares the same time slot with, and is tied with How to Get Away with Murder for highest-rated new show this season.

The show will feature original songs by cast members Bryshere Gray (Hakeem) and Jussie Smollet (Jamal), plus more family drama Wednesday nights on Fox.