Once upon a time not too long ago, I considered Empire must see TV. I would schedule my life around making sure I could see it in real time and on Twitter. It is a testament to the power of Cookie Lyons, and to be fair, Jamal Lyons from select angles. However, by the time the hit series reached the second half of its sophomore season, my response to seeing the show became more along the lines, “I’m not leaving happy hour for that. I’ll catch it on DVR when I feel like it.”
My, my, my, my, my, my, the show no longer seduces me on Wednesday nights. Others have echoed similar sentiments, though for different reasons. Writing for GQ, Kristin Hunt argues that the music is to blame. On the songs we’ve heard this season, Hunt says, “They’re rushed through, often presented in snippets or spliced in between shady business deals across town. And what we do see is aloof, irrelevant, and hardly any fun at all.”
True enough, Empire music sales are down, but as much as I’ve come to embrace “Drip Drop” as a cute lil’ THOT bop, why are pretending that Empire’s music were that phenomenal let alone the driving force behind the show? No, there is “Drip Drop” this season, but more importantly, the show has simply not been as entertaining and engaging as it was during its inaugural one.
If Empire, Season 1 is Ma$e’s Harlem World, Empire, Season 2 is Double Up.
One mistake was booking far too many celebrity cameos. Yes, for a show tied to the music industry, it makes sense to include celebrities from the music industry. However, only when it makes sense. Courtney Love was great in season one, but Chris Rock and Ludacris felt misplaced. Kelly Rowland has done well in her role as Lucious’ mama, but why did she end up light skinned later in life?
There are other problems, but none greater than the show’s storytelling. Why is there no follow through on many of the shows storylines? Say, when Cookie and Hakeem started their own label only for it to last five minutes. Lucious was only in jail for three minutes, by the way. And then Hakeem magically became CEO of Empire until he wasn’t anymore. Rest in peace, Naomi Campbell’s character. In the midst of that, Hakeem fell in love with the girl from Destiny’s Bilingual Child, but also reconnected with Camille, realized he got Boo Boo Kitty pregnant, and also learned that Tiana sort of wanted him back. If you recall, Tiana was supposedly a lesbian.
Speaking of sexual confusion, Jamal is now dating a DL producer. This DL storyline is such a bore. Why would a newly outed rising star who had a man (what exactly broke Jamal and Michael up again?) that magically disappeared suddenly deal with a dude on the down low? Why am I even being forced to type “on the down low” in the year of 2016 and our Lemonade? I thought we left that back on The Oprah Winfrey Show well over a decade ago?
There’s also Andre, who is being treated like the LaTavia of the show when he’s really Kelly Rowland when she’s popping.
Story matters, and while a strong narrative wasn’t the show’s biggest bragging right, there was something much tighter in the first season than the second. To be clear, while the show’s ratings have dipped, they remain remarkably high. However, if this show is to remain popular, it really should look more towards season one than two. I’d hate it for it go from Iggy Azalea during “Fancy” to Iggy Azalea everything after “Fancy.”