Empire, Fox’s break-out hit of the 2014-2015 television season, is a show I continue to be on the fence about. While I understand the show’s success, I can’t help but cringe at the way it chooses to shed light on certain social issues. For example: the mass incarceration of black men in this country.
The issue is touched on quite a bit in the beginning of The Devils Are Here, season two’s first episode, which I just watched a preview of. The show kicks off with a Free Lucious Concert, and features rapper Swizz Beatz lamenting what he believes to be the unjust jailing of Lucious, who we all know is actually very much guilty of what he has been jailed for.
Black Lives Matter, police brutality and the Ferguson uprising also get mentions via appearances from activist Al Sharpton and CNN host Don Lemon.
The problem with all this is that these real life social issues are belittled via a character who is as guilty as sin of everything he’s being accused of. Lucious is a murderer- several times over. He is not unjustly incarcerated and to link this character’s story with the real life issue of police corruption and abuse feels wrong.
I had an uneasy feeling while watching The Devils Are Here. I don’t see Empire as an innocent little show anymore. This episode touched too close to home and attempted to piggyback poorly off an issue that could mean life or death for many of us.
Depending on your level of consciousness, The Devils Are Here may not bother you. But for me, this particular episode left a very bad taste in my mouth. I really wanted to write an awesome review of Empire’s season two opener, but once I saw a caged gorilla descend onto the stage, only to be revealed as Cookie in a gorilla suit, I knew that wasn’t happening.
Empire is… honestly, I don’t even know what to say. It shocked me, and not in a good way. Disappointed would be a better term. It disappointed me. I expected better from a show helmed by Lee Daniels and written by this group of people.
FYI: I only saw about 30 minutes of the first episode before the wi-fi on my iPad went down. Fox usually allow 3 viewings of episodes, but with Empire, we were only allowed 1 viewing. I could have requested more, but I didn’t care to. I’d seen enough to make up my mind about this particular episode.