A new ‘Empire’ of the TV world arises and conquers ratings

Anissa Ypon, Staff Writer

Whether or not hip-hop music is your taste, Fox’s newest television series “Empire” has managed to break audience records after every episode.  The captivating show made its debut on Jan. 7, 2015, and ended the season on March 18, and broke a 23-year-old ratings record for Fox with 12.9 million viewers.

The show ultimately relates to music and drama, but viewers have also depicted Empire as a traditional, over-the-top soap opera.  However, many Bear Creek students admit they are hooked by the charisma of each character and the drama they bring to the table.

“I’m way too stoked for the next season to premiere,” senior Ella Egonio said. “The wait is agonizing!”

Terrence Howard, best known for his role as the patriarch Lucious Lyon of Empire Entertainment, plays a father who was a former gangster with outrageous musical talent; he now looks to pass his legacy and company on to one of his three sons after discovering he has ALS.  His co-star Taraji P. Henson plays Cookie Lyon, his ex-wife who sacrificed 17 years of her life behind bars to save the company Empire.

Aside from the delicious plot, viewers are enthralled by the musical talent performed in each episode.  Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon, the middle son of Lucious and Cookie, received the opportunity to sign with Columbia Records after ‘Empire’ showed off his talented voice.

“I’m really surprised that he wasn’t discovered before ‘Empire’,” senior Gerardo Donaire said. “He’s really talented as an actor and a singer.”

Smollett plays Jamal as a gay entertainer, but to add to the dramatic tension Lucious fears that his son’s sexuality will interfere with the hope to go public with the company.  This turns the competition toward rapper Hakeem Lyon, the youngest son, and Andre Lyon, the CFO of Empire Entertainment and oldest son.

Not only does the show portray homophobia, but it also portrays stereotypical depiction of African Americans — with many characters starting from the bottom with drug dealing, gang violence and prison.

“It’s kind of offending to me and I’m not even African American,” a junior who asked to remain anonymous said. “They may have found their way to the top but it’s so stereotypical and cliche for the members to be a part of gangs and drugs.”

Although most young people may not be offended by the overuse of the “n____” word, few find themselves questioning why the show uses the word as a form of slang.  Some may even argue that the show revolves around justice for African-Americans through the representation of guest stars and the support of the Black Lives Matter national movement.

“I don’t have a problem with the language they use or the stereotypes that are shown,” junior Jacob Stewart said. “It adds to the entertainment.”

Students at Bear Creek are tweeting hashtags, posting images on Instagram, and talking amongst themselves about “Empire.”  The show has gained strong national popularity, and whether the controversy is good or bad, the viewers are eagerly awaiting the second season which will premiere this Fall.