For its debut last night, the new Fox show “Empire” was all the rage, and I was one of those watching as Terrance Howard, Taraji P. Henson and a gaggle of others that gave everybody something to talk about. And while I think Terrance Howard’s ever-changing hair may have gotten the most Twitter attention, the more significant topic is the family structure presented in the show.
Lucious Lyon (Terrance Howard), the head of the Empire music conglomerate, struggles to keep his musically oriented empire running as he is continually presented with a bevy of new and reoccurring matters within his family. And then there is the show’s true star Taraji P. Henson aka Cookie, the feisty, hardcore matriarch just getting home from a 17 year bid.
Cookie, a self-proclaimed “dope dealing mom,” immediately begins to kick ass and take names, even going so far as to beat her own son like he stole something. The 40-something character is a proverbial whirlwind in the show, as well as the cornerstone of much of the backbiting that begins to brew as soon as “Empire” starts. Almost all the male characters go to her to set their schemes or, like Lucious, are the subject of the shake down. She goes from scene to scene chin-checking fools and, based on my social media feed, people love it. Cookie – apparently a former drug magistrate – is the real reason Lucious is able to get his empire off the ground.
As a man, Lucious is a pretty contradictory person. He boasts about selling drugs and creating this company, but he definitely cannot seem to run his family in the same way. “I ain’t know nothing about raising y’all – Cookie did all that,” Lucious says to his youngest after laughing about his beat down at the hands of his mother. However, how could Cookie be the drug queenpin and a great mom? He’s got three radically different sons. One is a pseudo thug rapper, the other is gay as well as a singer and the last one is so clean-cut, he’d probably be better served in a corporate bank America, not in music. And all of these guys are seemingly in competition to run the company when Lucicous departs. There is one flashback scene where Lucious attempts to “throw away” his middle son who begins to show homosexual tendencies in the 1990’s somewhere. Where they do that at?