If you don't watch Empire, you're fucking up. Plain and simple. It is easily one of the most entertaining shows on television for various reasons. Sure, shows like House of Cards are coming back (!!!!!!) and other shows that people watch are good. Good things are great, after all. But you absolutely do not get with any other show what you get with Empire. Do I know this definitively? Of course I don't; I think Beyonce deserved the album of the year and still haven't listened to Beck's album. Pshaw! But I never let a little thing like fact obscure my opinion. Here are 10 reasons (though by all means nowhere close to all-inclusive reasons) why Empire - after 7 episodes no less - is (hyperbolically speaking) the absolute best show on television.
1. The very premise of the show makes little to no sense. You'd think that firing out the gate with this assertion would be my undoing. Au contraire. This is the very reason why the show is so great. The premise of the show Empire rests on the main character, Lucius Lyon (played by one of the oddest individuals in the history of anything in Terrence Howard), who has ALS - you know ALS; it's that incurable disability that you all kept dousing yourselves with ice water out of buckets for - being given a maximum of three years to live and attempting to take his company public via an IPO and forcing his three sons - Andre, Jamal, and Hakeem - into a de facto compeition to head the company after he dies. Nothing too crazy there right? Wrong. Only one of them is even REMOTELY qualified to run the company. How is it even a competition? From the outset, any person watching was like, "oh, Andre the multi-degreed CFO of the company actually handles the fuckin' COMPANY BUSINESS…he's the only one that makes sense." But nope. Jamal, the artsy recluse who seeks acceptance from his father over his "gay lifestyle", seems completely unable to run a company, much less his career, and Hakeem, the "star" of the family definitely shouldn't be running anything. He's a superstar (on the show anyway), but he ain't a businessman. So yep, let's pit these two unqualified brothers + one actually legitimately qualified brother against one another and see how this shit shakes out. Shenanigans ensue. This is the premise of the show. All in, b. All in. It's almost as if the writers knew we'd know it made no sense but had gotten too far into their story before realizing how non-sensical it is so they just said fuck it, maybe nobody will notice.
We all noticed.
2. ****SPOILER ALERT (though it shouldn't be, you should be watching)**** So far Lucius has killed a man. And Cookie, the ex-wife/former dopegirl extraordinaire of Lucius Lyon who has just gotten out of prison after 17 years for taking a drug rap so that Lucius could become the musical genius and mogul that he became, is responsible for getting DeRay Davis to murder a former drug dealear in Philly she used to deal with. Oh, and the guy Lucius killed? That was Cookie's favorite cousin. She doesn't know how he died yet. The two former Philly drug dealers can't quite escape their pasts. So, of course, shenangians ensue.
3. In one episode, Hakeem makes some comments about Obama that go viral because Hakeem is a superstar. This prompts President Barack Hussein Obama to call Lucius and chastise him, and then hang up on him. You read that right. Lucius Lyon is SUCH an important force that an offbrand comment from his son prompts Obama, clearly in speed-dial, to feel some type of way about his son. In particular. That happened.
4. Taraji P. Henson is magic, y'all. Sometimes with Taraji I have no idea if life is imitating art or if art is imitating life. Either way, we're all better for it. Everything about her characer is right. From the guns she still runs with to the cab-ride from New York City to Philly she took to get the dopeboy murdered.
5. This show is THE guest spot to have. How do I know this? Naomi Campbell has a recurring role as the jumpoff to 21-year-old Hakeem. International supermodel Naomi Campbell is playing a jumpoff on this show. Derek Luke? He's the head of security. Courtney Love is playing…well, herself. Gabby Sidibe is an assistant. Cuba Gooding, Jr. is a ranch owning former great songwriter in love with Cookie.
Jenifer Lewis Tasha Smith is Cookie's sister and Malik Yoba is Lucius's right-hand man, well, he is now that Lucius killed his other other right hand man. Significant actor guest spots are rolling in on this show people. And I want in.
6. We still really don't know why Lucius Lyon is famous. I mean we know he was a musician who hit it big. So big he can walk into a prison and be let right into talk to whoever he wants and hand them a cell phone. Cookie proclaims that Lucius was such a great artist that there was a Lucius Lyon sound. We just haven't really HEARD it yet. Every time I hear anything that amounts to his old music (or see scenes that harken back to his early studio days) he sounds like Lyfe Jennings. Lucius Lyon is effectively Lyfe Jennings if anybody actually bought his music and turned him into an international superstar. I guess that makes Lucius Lyon Aloe Blacc. This is what we're to believe. It reminds me of how basketball movies tend to work as long as you don't show the basketball players playing basketball. Showing non-basketball playing "basketball players" playing basketball tends to ruin the fantasy of them being believable 5'8" NBA All-stars who are worthy of max deals.
7. Because the writers realized that we aren't stupid, you know Andre, the one son who is actually qualified to run the company? They made him bi-polar. I guess this is supposed to make us question if he's fully capable. Or something.
8. This is really fun here…Jamal is gay. But it turns out his father made him marry a chick - Raven Symone - for his image as a musician. Well that backfired but it looks like he may have knocked her up that one time they did sleep together. So she shows up and drops off her kid and apparently never returns from that elevator ride up to the 17th floor. This would seem to be tension. Except everybody pretty much just accepts this new kid as part of the plot like she had been there the whole time. One episode there was no kid. The next, there is a kid. And nobody seems to mind much in the Lyon extended family. Can somebody drop me off at Empire tower???
9. There are Empire branded jeans, shoes, digeridoos, pianos, telephones, binders, binders full of women, drinking cups, sippy cups, staplers, champagne, clubs, cars, money, hoes and clothes. Despite the fact that nearly no rapper or label has managed to truly body EVERY foray into multiple entreprenurial endeavors, Lucius Lyon is the one outlier. Fuck a Rush Card, where's my Empire Card?
10. The music. The music stradles between "nobody would listen to this shit" and "I'm currently listening to 'Drip Drop' at my work computer. I didn't pay for it on iTunes #doe." Timbaland is the music supervisor for the show so the music is serviceable, if not a bit corny at times. Timbo is definitely not handing over the Justin Timberlake stash. But unlike my inability to understand Lucius ascent to the top, we do hear music that sounds like what you'd think we'd hear in 2015 from a label pretending to be the greatest to ever do it and be the greatest that ever did it. BIGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGIE.
I'll stop there for now. Because this is getting long. Which is what she said.