Network TV just got a whole lot hotter. Wednesday night, Fox premiered its latest drama, Lee Daniel’s Empire, and judging from the ratings, folks were feeling the over-the-top show.
Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard star as Cookie and Lucious Lyon, former lovers and the co-founders of Empire Enterprises, a multi-million dollar music conglomerate at the top of its game. During the debut episode, Lucious learns that he has a terminal illness and decides to make his three sons—Andre, Jamal, and Hakeem—compete to become the next leader of the company. When Cookie is released from prison after serving a 17-year sentence, Lucious and the rest of the Lyon men are thrown for a loop as she returns to claim what’s hers.
Empire’s extravagant drama was a hit with fans, pulling in nearly 10 million viewers, more than double that of its lead-in American Idol. The show, which also trended on social media, delivered Fox its biggest debut in three years.
If you missed the first episode of Empire, you can watch it on the Fox website. But in case you still had doubts about the show, here are three reasons it just might become your new guilty pleasure.
#1 Taraji P. Henson is a boss
In essence, Empire is a soap opera. It’s chalk full of drama, plot twists, and exaggerated lines (and Howard’s throwback conk), but there is one thing keeping it together: Taraji P. Henson.
Henson is a force on screen, and manages to save Cookie from being just another loud mouth character, instead infusing her with hard-as-nails determination, wit, and motherly love for her boys. In less capable hands Cookie would fall flat, but Henson plays her with such finesse that you can’t help but keep watching (and rooting for her).
#2 It’s FULL of drama
Listen, the first episode of Empire was packed with good, old-fashioned drama. There were scheming sons, blackmail, murder, terminal illness, homophobia, and lots of music. At times it seemed like the writers threw everything against the wall hoping it would stick, but somehow it kept viewers engaged. Although it felt a little too much at times, the sheer amount of juicy drama in the first episode makes me want to keep watching just to see what else could possibly happen.
#3 It’s like going to the club, but without the cover charge
One of the really good things about Empire is its music. Timbaland—the man behind some of Justin Timberlake, Missy, Jay-Z, and Aaliyah’s biggest hits—serves as the executive music producer for the hour-long drama, and it shows. From Hakeem Lyon’s bass-heavy rhymes, to Jamal’s sensitive ballads, we have Timbaland to thank for giving Empire its seriously good sound.
Did you tune into the first episode of Empire? What did you think of the show?