TV Show Review: Empire, Season One

lucious lyon and cookie fight for empire

I started Empire two weeks ago I think. I have more than 30 shows in my watch-list so I cannot start every show that airs. But I kept on reading about the audience, how FOX had the show of the year and everything so I had to take a look. And I don’t regret.

When you have three sons, one that you hate because of who he is, one that you also hate for what he isn’t and one that you love but know that he isn’t good enough and you know you’re dying and you have this Empire, this music company that you built with your ex-wife who just got out of jail after 17 years because of you, what are you doing? You think that’s complicated? It’s really not. Lucious Lyon had everything. But everything is going to be lost when he learns that he has ALS and three years to live. He doesn’t have an heir, his secrets aren’t so hidden anymore and he has almost has much enemies than he has money. That’s how you get your audience hooked after only one episode.

Empire doesn’t only have good actors and fairly good scenarios. It has amazing songs, amazing guest-stars and the ability to put cliffhanger in the middle of an episode just to be sure that the viewers aren’t blinking an eye.

Jamal, Jamal, Jamal. My sweet, fierce, precious, genius, Jamal. I’ve only known Jussie Smollett for a couple of weeks, and already I love him. He is a great actor, an incredible singer/performer and he seems to be a hell of a man in real life. I love Terrence for his acting and Cookie for the badass character she is. I like Hakeem as well but he isn’t as deep as his brother or parents and who loves Andre really? The others are more or less likeable or detestable depending.

To me, the best moment of the season was the duet between Jamal and Lucious during the last episode on « Nothing to Lose ». It was a real fight hidden by lyrics and musicality. We got these two incredible artists that cannot understand each other or really love each other because they are fundamentally different. Lucious cannot accept his son’ sexuality while Jamal cannot forgive for the hell he gave him. Since the first episode, they are the characters in the most frontal confrontation and there you have Lucious singing with his son, acknowledging his talent and letting him express his feelings. Jamal is the one to go towards Lucious, to still believe in his talent despite everything that happened between them and it’s beautiful. They share this really complex scene when you don’t really see where hate stops and love starts but when Jamal sings « You’re so shady, with a heart of gold » and trying to rip his heart out, wow, that was something. I couldn’t stop thinking about the scenes we saw few times, Lucious taking a young Jamal by the collar and pushing him in the trash bin. The first time I saw it, during Jussie’s performance of « Good Enough » I was frozen, I was thinking about how realistic it was and how little kids could be treating this way right now just because of who they are. Jamal might be able to forgive his father at the end, but I don’t think Lucious will ever be over this night.

But they are so many moments that I love: Jamal’s coming out was EPIC on « You’re so beautiful », Lucious could have had a heart attack, that was beautiful and brilliant. The duet of Jamal and Estelle on « Conqueror », all the times when Cookie is protecting her family and gets what she righly deserves, the elevator scene with Jamal, Hakeem and Andre (scary shit but so good), and so much more.

About the music in general, I love everything sang by Jussie and even if I often grit my teeth at the lyrics, the songs performed by Yazz are pretty catchy either. The duets between Jussie and Yazz are always a success, their voices are getting along perfectly and Serayah can hold her own (mostly because she’s incredibly beautiful but well, it’s how’s life).

Mary J.Blige, Naomi Campbell, Snoop Dogg, Estelle, Juicy J, Rita Ora, Jennifer Hudson, Patti Labelle, Courtney Love, Raven, the list of guest-stars can make your head spinning. I don’t even know who FOX is going to get for the second season with the audience they had. They can ask Obama at this point.

The Lyons might be richer than they can count, they reign on an Empire so big and they are geniuses in music but this show is still about a broken family. Lucious, the dark father, the murderer, liar, cheater, but the most powerful person in Empire. Cookie, who took 17 years of her life for her husband, who didn’t see her kids growing up because of her love for Lucious and her faith in their project. Jamal, who was rejected by his father all his life, gay but the most talented in the family, with the purest intentions. Hakeem, the golden boy, the fantastic rapper who is way too insecure and has big mommy issues. And Andre, the bipolar but so smart eldest, the one who is actually understanding something of how Empire is working but has no artistic talent. That why I got so attached to them, I’m rooting for Cookie and Jamal but nothing is completely black or white when the money and power make everything so much more complicated. This five broken people are loving each other, hating each other, fighting each other and even killing each other. At the end, who will get the throne?

Season two I’m ready. Let’s the game begins!


Strong parts:

– Empire revealed Jussie Smollett, incredibly talented.

– The musics are awesome and makes you want to listen to them on repeat.

– Even if it is a soap opera, it is a good damn one.

– Terrence is the perfect anti-hero and Taraji is playing an awesome character. Cookie FTW!

– The fact that the audience kept growing every week during this first season says it all, this show is dope.


Weak parts:

– It is still a soap opera with its twists and storylines. A small flaw compared to the cast, the musics and the overall feeling when we watch.

– Guys, leave the gas pedal a bit, between everything that’s going on, the guest stars and everything, you’ll burn out before long.

– The fact that Lucious had be wrongly diagnosed, it was a bit easy even if I guess it happened, it doesn’t when you’re a billionaire.

I run this website to share my love for TV shows. I'm a French native but I write in English to challenge myself to write few articles every week and at least I write about something I'm passionate about :)

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