‘Em­pire’ keeps ris­ing in the rat­ings — and noth­ing EVER rises in the rat­ings

The Star (St. Lucia) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

The rise of Fox’s “Em­pire” has been fas­ci­nat­ing to watch over the last few weeks, and things just keep get­ting bet­ter for the new hit show.

For an un­be­liev­able sev­enth week in a row, the se­ries — a primetime soap about a fam­ily dy­nasty di­vided by the fight to con­trol a hip-hop em­pire — surged in the rat­ings, netting 13.8 mil­lion view­ers on Wed­nes­day. That’s up from last week’s 13 mil­lion view­ers, up from the pre­vi­ous week’s 12 mil­lion.

Just to give con­text, this never hap­pens. Like, ac­tu­ally never. It’s record-break­ing. In its fifth week on air, ac­cord­ing to En­ter­tain­ment Weekly, the drama be­came the first se­ries since 1991 (when Nielsen started a new way of track­ing rat­ings) to in­crease for a con­sec­u­tive five weeks. And the jug­ger­naut has only con­tin­ued, which is why trade pub­li­ca­tions like Va­ri­ety say they need to find terms of de­scrip­tion for it that go be­yond “megahit” “phe­nom” and “un­prece­dented.”

There’s no ques­tion that ex­pec­ta­tions were high for “Em­pire” with its star-stud­ded cast in­clud­ing Ter­rence Howard and Taraji P. Hen­son. Still, even shows that get dy­na­mite rat­ings for the de­but episode (9 mil­lion view­ers in the case of “Em­pire”) gen­er­ally see them dip by the sec­ond. Or if the rat­ings rise in the sec­ond, they fall in the third. That’s just the way TV works.

But “Em­pire” has de­fied all odds, thrilling Fox ex­ec­u­tives and send­ing the rest of the TV in­dus­try scram­bling to fig­ure out the se­cret. Has Hol­ly­wood fi­nally re­al­ized that peo­ple are thirst­ing for more di­verse pro­gram­ming? Or is it the mu­sic? The act­ing? The power of Taraji P. Hen­son?

From the mo­ment it pre­miered, self-con­sciously pop­u­lated with loung­ing pa­ja­mas, hooker furs and an­i­mal-printed ev­ery­thing, Fox’s hip-hop drama “Em­pire” has used fash­ion as en­ter­tain­ment, plot point, back story and weapon.

The show is a fash­ion de­light. But it is also an as­sess­ment of the public face of hip-hop, cloth­ing as class and style as iden­tity.

“Em­pire” de­tails the story of Lyon, a hip-hop mogul with the prob­lems of King Lear: Which of his three sons will take over his busi­ness now that he has been di­ag­nosed with ALS? The show is pop­u­lated with a war­ring cast of char­ac­ters who rep­re­sent the full spec­trum of hip-hop — from the street-tough world of shady en­trepreneurs to cor­po­rate be­he­moths pow­ered by MBAs prep­ping for an IPO.

Cookie, played with a smooth roar by Taraji P. Hen­son, just fin­ished 17 years in pri­son for drug deal­ing. She struts onto the screen wear­ing a tight leop­ard-print dress, a white fur coat, mon­ster hoop ear­rings and a slick pony­tail that sits high on her head and swishes down her back — as if her cell block had a beau­ti­cian on call. Cookie looks a bit like Mary J. Blige circa the mid-1990s, when ghetto fab­u­lous­ness was mak­ing waves in the fash­ion in­dus­try and ev­ery­one from Gucci to Chanel took a bite out of the trend.

“Em­pire” de­picts the in­evitable — but not nec­es­sar­ily ad­mirable — shift in aes­thetics as folks move up the eco­nomic lad­der as well as the so­cial one. Lu­cious has dumped the faded jeans and sneak­ers and styled him­self in busi­ness suits and silk scarves. Cops stand at at­ten­tion when he walks into a jail­house; the pres­i­dent takes his call. But now he’s just a thug with bet­ter tailor­ing.

The stars of the hit TV show Em­pire.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.