“Empire” is a ratings machine, and there is no easy way around stating that. This is a show that came out guns a-blazing in 2015, and really accelerated a movement of diversity on network TV that started with “black-ish” over on ABC. While this different perspective brought viewers in, they stuck around because the show was legitimate. Taraji P. Henson was extraordinary, Jussie Smollett became an overnight star, and the music showed itself to be worthy of the hip-hop community thanks to some collaborations with top producers.
Now that we’re halfway through the second season, have we made it into somewhat of a sophomore slump? That is not an easy question to answer; as we’ll show you in our latest Midseason Report Card article, there are some things that this series is doing a wonderful job at, and others that need to be tweaked at this point in the run.
The good – Extraordinary performances from most of the core cast, with Smollett, Henson, and Terence Howard being at the top of the list. They understand that this is more a show about family than a show about business, and you can see that through most of what they do. Also, the winter finale did a great job of paying off the whole story of Mimi Whiteman, and showing that there are new ways for Lucious Lyon to lose everything that we hadn’t quite seen before. It also did a great job of giving Jamal some success, while Hakeem’s story arc proved itself to be every bit as heartbreaking as we imagined it could be. Really powerful, dramatic stuff all around.
The bad – What “Empire” did really well this season is give you extraordinary moments, from Jamal’s Pepsi commercial to Andre’s religious experience to even the unfortunate shock regarding Rhonda in the finale. It was everything in between that it struggled with. in between some of the short-term plotlines, romances, and also the avalanche of guest stars. Other than Marisa Tomei and Vivica A. Fox, we barely even remember some of them.
Also, we feel like we’re at the point now where we get bored anytime that the music is featured on the show. It was a great device in season 1, but as with “Glee’ it is starting to feel now like it detracts from the surrounding story.
Overall – A very good second swing for “Empire” on Fox. While some of the individual stories may feel a little repetitive, they have done a great job bringing the drama to Fox and cultivating fascinating TV moments. Grade: B.
You can read some other Midseason Report Card entries by heading over here! Also, you can sign up now to get some more updates on everything we cover, sent right to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: Fox.)