Empire (season 1)

Written by | Miscellaneous

In its first season, Fox’s Empire made a huge cultural splash, and it’s fairly easy to see why.

Photo by Michael Lavine/FOX

It was created by openly-gay producer Lee Daniels, of buzzy projects like Precious and The Butler, along with actor-writer Danny Strong, who penned the final Hunger Games films. The show’s plot is in constant motion — bubbling with intrigue involving money, fame, power and family. The premise is vaguely Shakespearean (think King Lear), with terminally-ill music mogul Lucious Lyon struggling to choose which of his three sons will succeed him: his dutiful oldest boy, his undisciplined youngest, or the middle child, whose homosexuality Lucious can’t fully accept. The choice is further complicated when the boys’ mother, Cookie, returns from 17 years in prison seeking to reclaim what she’s lost in terms of both money and power. As Cookie, Taraji P. Henson is giving a career-defining performance that is in all ways the best part of the show; fortunately the writers seem to realize it and offer her new scene-stealing opportunities every week. THE WORD: It is as melodramatic as any daytime soap, but ups its cred with great music, slick production and tons of fun. COMING TO: Home Video — in time to catch up for the Season 2 premiere September 23.

By Jonathan Roche

Last modified: July 27, 2017