Once you watch the first two episodes, you’ll understand. FOX’s new prime-time drama series Empire is the only show you need to be watching on Wednesday nights, as American Idol’s 545th(?)season kicked off with the lowest ratings in the show’s history. Clearly, that one-time “must watch” T.V. staple is, in a word, done. However, in case the incessant status updates and tweets during the 9 P.M. time slot that ‘Empire’ holds Wednesday nights on FOX isn’t enough to convince you, I’m here today to serve up 5 Reasons Why you absolutely should be tuning into ‘Empire’ every week. Dive into my convincing case below…
1.Because Tariji P. Henson absolutely slays it as her portrayal of lead female character, Cookie
If there has EVER been a more entertaining lead female character in a drama series, I would like to see you try to find one. After serving a seventeen year prison sentence, Ms. Cookie Lyon(the fab Ms. P. Henson), returns to reclaim what is rightfully hers, Empire Entertainment. At the same time, she tries to reestablish relationships with her three sons, who now all view her differently after her Orange Is The New Black vacation. Cookie is a strong and determined woman who doesn’t stop until she gets what she wants, a.k.a, my role model. Although her fashion sense is about two decades behind, her wit and knack for shade are very much up-to-date. Believe it when I tell you guys, that Cookie is going to give you LIFE with her one-liners and quips every week. I mean, she’s already beaten her son Hakeem into next week with a broom…and we’re only a few episodes in. Getting convinced yet?
2.Because of the rest of the cast and crew….
Created, written, and produced by Radnor High School alum, Lee Daniels (‘Monsters Ball’) and Danny Strong (‘The Hunger Games’), Empire is not only well written, but it also contains a highly respectable cast. Academy Award nominated actors Terrence Howard (‘Hustle & Flow’, 2006), Gabourey Sidibe(‘Precious’, 2009), and of course, Ms. Tariji all appear as recurring characters every week. Howard and Henson compliment each other well when it comes to bringing the story of their once-married characters, Lucious and Cookie, to life. The complex nature of these two characters is effortlessly displayed by these seasoned entertainers, while at the same time, their powerful portrayals don’t take away from the performances of the other actors and actresses in supporting roles. There’s not a single cast member who doesn’t appropriately add to the melodramatics of this “Hip-Hopera”…
3. Because it has a great story to tell……
Starting off as a underground rapper and street hustler, Lucious Lyon(Howard) starts a Hip-hop record label, Empire Entertainment, with his then wife, Cookie. After Cookie takes the fall for a crime she didn’t commit, Lucious is left to raise their three sons Andre, Jamal, and Hakeem, all on his own. Fast-forward to seventeen years later, and an announcement is made that Empire Entertainment will be made public on the NYSE, and also during this time, Lucious is diagnosed with ALS, all the while knowing that he now has to make the decision of “naming his successor” and the future head of the company. In a manner reminiscent of King Lear, he puts his three sons in competition with each other for the “throne” as Cookie returns from her extended vacation to reclaim Empire, the company started with her $400,000 investment. If that’s not enough juice for you, Ms. Cookie returns only to find out that Lucious has remarried and been living quite the glamorous life while she’s been in prison. Ready to tune in now?
4. Because it’s laced with incredible music….
One of the best parts about the show, is that every episode features a few original scores and performances. With songs written and produced by global award-winning executive music producer Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley(maybe Missy Elliot will pop up soon? Sigh….), the show is bound to have you thumbing your way to a music download program. Accompanied by well-choreographed performances and dance sequences, the soundtrack to Empire is a shoe-in for some Emmy nominations-and for your headphones. As the two youngest sons are in competition with each other, with one rapping and one singing, we can expect many more original hits to come in the remaining eleven episodes already pre-ordered by FOX. Since the show touches on very controversial and sensitive topics, the lyrics to many of the tracks hold deep meaning and certainly hold their relevance in today’s world. To check out some tunes from the show, go right here.
5. Because it’s Philly based….
Although presently set in NYC, the story of Empire Entertainment began in Philadelphia. Being a native, ANY show based in Philly is a must-see. Really, at the end of the day, if you’re looking for a great T.V. drama with captivating scenes and an amazing soundtrack, then ‘Empire’ is what you absolutely need in your life. A show like this hasn’t graced the screens of America since Dynasty (see the similarity in the titles), and it’s already smashing expectations, with ratings increasing in the second week and beyond (which is EXTREMELY rare for new shows), showing no signs of slowing down. The ‘Empire’ train has left the station, so you better hurry up and jump on! That’s all.