Has ‘Empire’ Treaded Into Tyler Perry’s “Just Make It Work; Maybe Nobody Will Notice” Territory?

Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) and Lucious (Terrence Howard) FOX
Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) and Lucious (Terrence Howard)

Empire is a huge show. Season 1’s success caught everybody by surprise, including the people who created the show, and you cannot convince me otherwise. I even claimed, hyperbolically, that Empire was the best show on television for a number of paradoxical reasons. Each week, last season, the viewership grew, and for good reason.

With Empire, you really never knew what was going to happen next. The entire premise of the show made little sense, but me and you (your mama and your cousin, too) were drawn to the Lyon family, especially Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, the recently-released-from-a-17-year-bid felon, returning to take back her family. It was like The Cosby Show (too soon?), only if Cliff and Clair sold weight instead of going to college.

This unpredictability was part of the Empire charm. It turned into one of those shows for which celebrities wanted a cameo. I mean, hell, who wouldn’t want to be a guest star on the biggest show to hit television and black America in years? The characters were likable enough and believable enough—in a “Is this what life is like at Puff’s house every day?” kind of way—that we reluctantly forgave some of the utterly nonsensical scenes toward the end of season 1. Like the scene where Lucious is lying in bed being visited by Casper, who, if memory serves, was himself. Like I said, some things we just forgave.

To be real, the only true way to enjoy Empire is to take it at face value and not delve in too deeply. It’s like Young Thug songs or sausage. Like that last sentence—it makes sense, but only if you don’t try to analyze it too deeply. You just have to watch and enjoy, then go watch something else without trying to make the show mean more than it does.

But that’s the problem—it’s getting harder and harder to watch and ignore the nonsense.

Empire is a show full of non sequiturs and incomplete, then completely forgotten storylines that everybody seems to get over almost instantly. For instance, on episode 5 of this season, Hakeem gets kidnapped. On episode 6 the kidnappers, who are not the best kidnappers ever, lose Hakeem, who asks a guy who was driving a van he was in to let him out, only for Hakeem to run up on Boo Boo Kitty for some aggression sex. Or something. I said, “Hunh??” at my television so loudly I almost activated a Master P station on Pandora—I’ve got a Smart TV.

From there, you can’t really tell if Hakeem is dealing with PTSD or if his captors put an LSD patch under one of his tattoos. But the point is: kidnapping, then quick rescue. Back-to-back pretty cleanly, and let’s move on with only scant references from others about what happened (well, aside from Lucious making it seem like Hakeem bitched out). That’s the Empire way. There are no elephants in the room. They killed the elephants and sent them to oblivion, only to be heard from again when somebody in the writers room says, “Hey, you remember that time we did X 10 episodes ago but never actually mentioned again? Let’s bring that back!”

Let’s not even talk about Jamal’s daughter, who showed up in season 1 and everybody was like, “Cool.” Then it turned out that Lucious was the father and everybody was like, “Cool.” Then she was gone at some point and everybody was like, “Cool.”

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Source: The Root | PANAMA JACKSON