January 7th 2015, Empire’s pilot aired on Fox and took prime time television by storm. Produced by legend and pioneer Lee Daniels, Empire had leading cast members and Hustle & Flow veterans Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard, captivate audiences with their undeniable chemistry as Cookie and Lucious, the two head clashing monarchs of the Lyon Dynasty, a family full of secrets who own a record label in modern day New York.


Watching the first season of Empire, we loved the drama, the fashion, the music (most of it, cause honestly, what was that drip top mop top shit), and the fact this was a huge cast ensemble made up of primarily actors of color of all shapes, shades, and sizes and here we thought,“ this is it, it’s happening, we get to finally see television made for us by us!” and we were hopeful!


So what the fuck happened?

The majority of it was the issue of unfinished (and quite frankly, boring) Plot Lines, Leaving things unfinished is frustrating and can confuse viewers, possibly even alienate them. The show started to become about star power and turned into star cameo overload-the show had famous celebrities playing new and exciting characters...but they never end up really doing anything.


Although they they became semi- permanent characters, there is still a lack genuity and any real depth because their narratives are rushed and are just simply not well written. It seems as though the creators of empire were focused on catching the attention of audiences, but because of the plot lines falling through, they made no effort in keeping the attention. Viewers were left with too many unanswered questions and decided to never come back.  

Also-they gave Becky a boo and then never spoke of it again, and honestly, I can never forgive them for that.


That, along with low quality production, post production, and the music you couldn’t get out of your head...and not in a good way, Empire is just a mess now. I don’t hate the show I’m just disappointed and heart broken, thinking about what could have been, ie: a Jamal and Becky spin off, but now I’m just being greedy-The point is this: A tv show about Black and Brown people deserves consistent quality. Empire and projects like it need to be seen as a teaching moment for creatives and audiences, and what we see is that it is not enough to have POC representation in film/tv/media. The content of said media needs to be consistently challenging, well developed, and purposeful, or else we’re just bodies saying a bunch of nothing and taking up space.


Considering that the other half of the Empire writers was not person of color, other being Lee Daniels, could be a reason why the show’s characters were underdeveloped and why plotlines were left for dead; white creatives only see Black and Brown people as one dimensional to begin with, let alone fictional characters, and because attitudes like this, we get promising tv show ideas, but end up with a less than mediocre execution (@orangeisthenewblack, I’m looking at you right in the crazy eyes.) The importance of Black and Brown people being present in the writers’ room in order to create our stories is heavier now more than ever if we plan on getting the media representation we want and deserve.

Fortunately for the cast members of Empire, despite the show’s underwhelming existence, has ignited and reignited the careers of pretty much anyone who has walked on set, and for that I thank Empire. But maybe that was the point of the show: to act as a Trojan horse that was set out to sneak in Black and Brown Hollywood heavy hitters, but now that it has fulfilled its purpose, perhaps it’s time to just let that horse just die already.

Palmira Muniz is a CSUITEMUSIC Blogger 

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