There is much speculation about why this television show has become an overnight phenomenon. Why exactly does it appeal to so many? Is it the unapologetically flawed characters? Is it the allure of sex, music, and drugs? Is it because it offers a rare opportunity to observe a version of black family dynamics? My thoughts are a bit simpler. To me, it’s the same reason we consistently watch any other t.v. show whose characters we don’t completely agree with; it provides escapism from our real lives, and ummm……WE WANT IN! We want to be apart of this exclusive club, that with all its drama and backstabbing, still seems worth it because of the amount of power and influence at their disposal. Viewers are able to easily connect with parts of these complicated individuals that remind us of ourselves. They make us think if only we would have done things differently, we could have had a similar life. But, since many of us do not have the same trappings as Cookie or Boo Boo Kitty, we accept being able to watch those that do.
The transparency of Empire is alike to how a gangster rap album is for a teenager living in suburbia. It’s all in the details. For some it gives instructions on how to navigate life’s “gray areas”, and where the questions they dare not ask out loud get answered. Such as, what kind of attitude should a “Boss” of a million dollar company have? What clothes do you wear when you want to get your ex back in more ways than one? How can you have the courage to be proud of who you are and the life you live?
As often as many of us say we are indifferent to worldly status symbols, the opinions of others, and don’t want or need to be told anything, the outstanding ratings of this ground breaking show proves other wise. Not only do the masses want membership to an Empire lifestyle, they want mentorship on how to get it. And, if the only way we can come close to having it is by watching once a week, then so be it. But, while we are paying close attention, we also will be hoping that life imitates art as quickly as possible.
Besides the moments I feel could have gone without someone performing, I have no complaints about the series. I’m simply enjoying the ride that this “hip hopera” has me on, and glad to be able to enjoy a show that makes people want to miss church, get home early, and talk about at work next day. It’s about time!
Rachel Bryant Lundy