After just two episodes, Fox has renewed their hit show Empire. The show has become the number one new series of the season. Empire is the only new broadcast drama this season to grow from week one to week two; the show’s second episode had 10.3 million viewers, a five percent increase from its debut episode. The show dominated the dramas on other networks, drawing more young adults than the combined viewership for CBS‘ Criminal Minds and NBC‘s Law & Order: SVU.
Empire’s co-stars, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, spoke to Variety magazine about diversity on television. The actors also discussed the success of their show, as well as the success of How to Get Away With Murder and Black-ish. How to Get Away With Murder, starring Viola Davis, is the number one new broadcast series premiere among adults 18-49. Black-ish, ABC’s African-American family comedy, ranks as the highest rated new comedy series. “Shows with people of color can make money,” said Taraji P. Henson. The actress continued, “With the wave of successful ethnic shows that are in television, people want to be part of it.”
Empire also boldly addresses homophobia in the African-American community. The show’s creator, Lee Daniels, said it was important to bring the issue to the forefront. “Homophobia is rampant in the African-American community. I wanted to blow the lid off the door of homophobia.” Actor Jussie Smollett plays Terrence Howard’s gay son on the show, and Howard neglects him because of his sexuality. Howard says it is a challenge portraying such a close-minded character. But, despite playing a controversial character, Howard said he is “honored for the opportunity to make an impact on those who are still not accepting.”
Empire has already announced some of their celebrity guests appearances for this season. The show is looking to capitalize on their high-profile guest including Mary J. Blige, Courtney Love, Naomi Campbell, Gladys Knight, and rapper Fabolous. As previously reported, rapper Snoop Dogg is also scheduled to make a guest appearance on the show. Empire’s ability to combine music, sex, controversy, money, and power has proven to be, and will keep being, a winning formula.