Empire renewed for season 6; is Jussie Smollet leaving?

Empire season 4 episode 1The big news in regards to Empire is starting to come in, though emotions may run all over the map about much of it.

First, let’s start with the news that the Fox drama — at one point of the biggest shows on all of TV — has been renewed for a season 6. Even with all of the changes at Fox this year due to Disney and things on the business end, clearly this show remains a part of the network’s plans … and that’s without even going too in-depth on some of the issues that arose away from the show. Think in terms of the Jussie Smollett headlines, but we’ll get to that more in the future.

For now, though, let’s go ahead and share an official statement from Michael Thorn, President, Entertainment of Fox Entertainment:

“EMPIRE continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the FOX legacy … We want to thank everyone on the show – Taraji, Terrence and the entire cast, as well as Lee, Danny, Brett, Sanaa, Brian, Francie, Dennis and their teams – all of whom have done a tremendous job this season. We know there are so many more stories to tell, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for Season Six.”

As for the status of Jussie Smollett…

It’s complicated. While it’s possible that the actor could come back as Jamal Lyon, it doesn’t seem like something that is set to happen in the immediate future. Per Variety, here’s what a joint statement from Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television had to say:

“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire.'”

The basic way to read this is that Fox wants to keep their options open as much as they possibly can. This could give them an opportunity to bring Smollett back, but we don’t think that this is going to be an immediate priority, either. More likely, Fox is probably just going to get on the other side of this controversy and try to get the focus back on the show itself — something that was never quite so polarizing. Trying to do that could prove difficult given that Jamal was one of the show’s most-noteworthy characters and, beyond just that, the ratings have already been falling for the past several seasons as-is. It is still one of Fox’s most-successful series, but it doesn’t have that same sort of runaway hit status that it once did.

More than likely, Fox will announce some additional information when it comes to Empire and the future of the show at their upfronts in May. The official premiere date will likely be revealed once we get around to the summer.

What do you think about Empire being renewed for a season 6, and do you think that Fox should opt to bring back Smollett for another run? Share in the comments below. (Photo: Fox.)

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