EMPIRE - TV show review

I love music. That's a no brainer, as I have a blog on which I write about music profusely. Knowing this, a mate from Philadelphia urged me with extreme force to watch EMPIRE. He kept telling me it is a good show. He would pull up songs and play them for me and needle me to tell him what I thought of the song. If I didn't care for it, he'd play it again and again and again, each time asking me what I thought. After an exasperated Fer Fox Sake! I relented and watched. Then I binged! EMPIRE is phenominal!! ZOMG! It's darn good television!

OK, to be fair, it's NOT the type of music I like. As you can see, I like heavy metal. Ne', I LOVE heavy metal. My daily fare consists of Amon Amarth, Savage Messiah, Metallica, Moonspell - music like that. And EMPIRE does NOT have music like that. Empire is a special television show as the music is specific to the show. Timbaland, whom I know from doing a Duran Duran album, is in charge of the music of Empire. So the songs are catchy, hooky, and get stuck in your head. Empire is about the Empire Records belonging to Lucious and Cookie Lyon. It features the artists on the Empire record label with the emphasis on the Lyon children. Each episode has singing by both of the children, and sometimes you get a treat with Terrance Howard singing.

Empire is about the Lyon family and their rise to being a top notch music record label. The "empire" was started by Lucious and Cookie Lyon, played by the amazing and talented Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson from The Division, Boston Legal, and the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. They started doing music in a run down flat in Philadelphia. Cookie was involved in drugs trade and Lucious seemed to be a heavy. They were happily married and the parents of three boys. Unfortunately, a drug deal went bad, a federal agent is killed, and Cookie ends up in the nick for 17 years. Parents of the year? Nope, no more than JR and SueEllen Ewing or Edina Monsoon or Roseanne and Tom Arnold.

In that time, Lucious raises the boys with the help of Cookie's cousin and another mate. Which leads to an interesting view of what happens when it's a single father raising children in an all male environment. According to the television show EMPIRE, not much. The outcome is pretty much standard. The youngest child has no clue who this woman is tight dresses, expensive nails, high heels and mondo attitude is. He doesn't remember his mother at all. The youngest, Hakeem, is a spoiled brat. The middle child, Jamal, loves his baby brother and has few real interactions with his older brother. Jamal was and is Cookie's favourite. While Hakeem is his father's favourite. Where does that leave the oldest, Andre? Out in the frakking cold! He gets no love from his mother nor father. And at times, Lucious is downright verbally abusive to his oldest son. The character of Andre summed it up perfectly when he stated that his father doesn't love him because he isn't talented, he can't sing. Andre is the one that went to business school and has the education and business smarts to run a company. Hell, Lucious and Cookie are either showering the kids with love or verbally abusing them. There seems to be no middle ground. The kids cope the best they can.

But it isn't a captivating TV show without drama. That's why people tune in! And EMPIRE is loaded with drama. Andre is bi-polar. The actor wonderfully shows the effects of this (or being manic-depressive) in a dizzying way. Trai Byers should get an award for his performances! He's scary and loveable and everything in between. He's a level headed business man and then he decides he's fine and stops taking his meds. I'm sure this is familiar to anybody who deals with someone with a chemical imbalance and "normalizes" with medication. When Andre stops taking his meds, whoa doggie! Things get all the way live!!! The middle child, Jamal, is gay. Cookie knew he was different since he was a child. In one scary and heartbreaking scene Jamal comes out of the bedroom at age 4, maybe 5 dressed in Cookie's heels, a hat, and a scarf. Lucious loses his shite and picks the boy up, takes him outside, and dumps him in a trash bin. No lie! Lucious flat out does NOT like Jamal. Hakeem is just Hakeem. The baby of the family. The rebel. The live wire. The spoilt brat.

EMPIRE has a wonderful cast of actors including Malik Yoba, Gourey Sidibie, Naomi Campbell, and small appearances by Judd Nelson, Courtney Love, and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

EMPIRE airs Wednesday nights on FOX


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