Empire in my rear view mirror

Empire

It’s not often that I can’t get past the second episode of a show, but I gotta say I’m straight out done with Empire. I can’t take it anymore. Just that quick.

The name Lucious Lyon is a problem, but that’s just one. The name Cookie is also a problem, but I’ll live with it. But when somebody with the name of Lucious Lyon can get the President of the United States on the phone and then call him Barack? Not ‘Mr. President’, not ‘Sir,” but just…Barack?

I’m sorry, but no. Just…no. I mean, I understand that you’re allowed to bend the truth a bit with fiction. That’s why they call it fiction. But there still has to be at least a teaspoon of credibility stirred in to make it work, and to imagine a world where a hip hop mogul on par with Sean Combs or Jay-Z is so plugged in that he is on a first-name basis with the President of the United States? Please. It’s obvious the intent here is to make the viewers go “ooooohhh, y’all see THAT?as in some kind of perverse vicarious thrill imagining what it must be like. Except that it don’t be like that. At all.

As for the rest of my issues with the show, that’s a long list. But in short, this is what a first or second draft looks like. Not a finished product. The writing is simplistic (see “Barack”), much of the dialogue is contrived, and the characters are mostly one-dimensional stereotypical sketches. Just a few more drafts and attention to detail could have cured that problem. Not asking for Shakespeare here, just asking that the writers try just a bit harder. See what it feels like.

Truth be told, I had my serious reservations throughout most of the previews. Plus most shows that have to be pushed that hard usually have to be pushed that hard for a reason, and it’s usually not a good reason. Still, with Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson on board working together again after what I thought was a tremendous effort in “Hustle and Flow,” I started telling myself maybe the commercials were missing something. Because I’ve seen Howard in a number of films, and the man has serious skills as an actor. Same for Henson, although I think she’s not quite at the level of Howard just yet. Then when you throw in Lee Daniels, the force behind “The Butler,” another movie that I thought was very well done, I guess I just didn’t want to believe that this much star power could fall this short.

And yes, I already know the show is making its hit numbers. This wouldn’t be the first midget in history to cast such a long shadow.

 

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About the author
kaoblues
Writer and musician.

6 Comments

elayne sikelianos

2015-01-17 06:06:47 Reply

Too bad ~ i often get the feeling the writers that are hired are OUT of touch with real life. They need you! and you could use the bread, i’m sure….thanks for the honesty. Regards ~~ elayne

Regina

2015-01-19 04:30:38 Reply

I absolutely HATE Terrance Howard as an actor! As soon as I saw a preview my mind was made up. You said, “Because I’ve seen Howard in a number of films, and the man has serious skills as an actor. Same for Henson, although I think she’s not quite at the level of Howard just yet.” WOW! I must say I disagree! I have seen them both in numerous films and in my opinion they are both one dimensional actors, but I can at least SOMETIMES tolerate Taraji Henson. Howard always seems to play the same slimy, sleazy type to me. But I digress!
I did watch a half hour of the first episode and the entire thing seemed very 1990ish and simplistic and already done to me and could have starred any of the rappers from the 90’s-2000s era. But hey the reviews APPEAR to be good and the show APPEARS to be going well. I wish them all the best but as for me…I’M OUT!

    kaoblues

    2015-02-24 20:15:35 Reply

    Hey Regina! OK, I hear you. Although I think even though Terrance has played some sleazy characters he’s played them quite well, especially in “Hustle and Flow,” which I thought was a great flick. He brought an entirely new dimension to a low-life character, and that’s not easy. Same as Morgan Freeman did when he played the hell outta that role as a pimp in “Streetsmart.” I know you’re gonna disagree, but I just thought Terrance did one heck of a job in that movie. Also he was really good in “Crash”. And he wasn’t sleazy in that one at all. Thanks for dropping by!

    Moon

    2016-08-06 20:14:55 Reply

    Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vi-rsveeca? My site covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Great blog by the way!

Zaye Diggs

2015-01-23 06:15:15 Reply

Great article. I don’t agree with all of your points– but life is not about us always agreeing.
In fact, I’ve learned more from those who disagreed with me.

I’m a new filmmaker and I have dealt with the difficult task of portraying African-Americans without offending people. Unfortunately, that is impossible because you just can’t please everyone. Bourgeois people will never relate to “hood” folks and vice versa. That’s the way of the world. However, a great artist can find ways to portray people with a blend of those characteristics and bring the two contrasting groups together. Just like good music brings us together, so should good writing.

To our chagrin, “Empire” has not done that. “Empire” makes it seem like dirty money is the only way to fame. I would have liked for the eldest, educated son to have been the secret “bread winner” and Lucious could have taken credit for Andre’s financial skills. Meanwhile, Cookie could have been held captive overseas and came home as an American hero. (Anything but the usual do-rags to riches tale.)

Sorry for the long response. You’ve made me want to write a blog about the show now. LOL!

    kaoblues

    2015-02-24 20:01:07 Reply

    Absolutely Zaye! It’s not about agreeing with everything because how boring would that be? It’s much more about sharing, learning, and discussing. Plus opening up to alternate viewpoints. I feel that always helps to make my argument stronger. Thanks for stopping by!

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