Fox’s dauntless family saga, Empire chronicles the complicated life of music mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) as the patriarch of his tumultuous family and CEO of his music business, Empire Entertainment. The show draws inspiration from the plot of Shakespeare’s King Lear and the classic soap opera style of Dynasty and Dallas.
Ever since Empire exploded onto screens the riotous Hip Hop drama has demanded attention and captivated viewers with high octane plot lines and multifarious characters. As the momentum builds for the September premiere of its second season, Fox has released a 20 minute featurette offering insights from the actors and show runners, plus hints of what to expect from the next amplified dose of drama.
Empire was co-created by director Lee Daniels (Precious) and screenwriter Danny Strong (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2). The show has steadily risen in popularity since its January 2015 debut was the highest ranked new show for Fox in three years and its first season’s double whammy finale was the highest rated since 2005. The series has been praised for refreshing the big drama soap opera genre and gaining genuine legitimacy within the temperamental music culture it portrays. The show features music produced by Timberland and a score of celebrities fighting to cameo.
The above featurette gives Daniels and Strong (who also collaborated on The Butler) discuss the success of Empire so far, the intense shock twists they have employed to keep the audience on their toes and the complex characterization of the series stars that must respond to the pumping pace of constantly evolving drama. Here, the cast also get to reflect on their characters’ journey and emotional struggles in Empire season one, before teasing speculatively about what the future holds in light of the dramatic season one finale. Lastly, the video touches on two additional breakout aspects of the show: its coveted fashion showcased by its stars and the music soundtrack, which has become the first ever album from a TV series to top the Hip Hop and R&B music charts.
Empire thrives on frenetic melodrama that is shocking, addictive and a guilty pleasure. The accelerated dramatization is opulent fantasy that unabashedly plays on both the subject matter and the roots of its inspiration. It is this upfront approach that authorizes these tactics, inducing the show’s success and justifying the audacious plot swerves that may appear exhaustive if applied to another series
The concern is that series like Empire, while they attempt to maintain their intense pace and non-stop surprises, can end up reducing their characters to caricatures, victims of the extreme events that demand constantly bigger reactions; in order to stay unpredictable, the show’s thus constantly destroy what they have built, just to rebuild it. Fortuantely, the above featurette promises more flashback scenes that will better flesh out our favorite characters and hopefully provide more depth for Empire‘s fascinating people.
With Empire season two having been expanded to 18 episodes from 12 and some powerful cliffhangers to resolve, the anticipated new season should be captivating. The inclusion of Ne-Yo producing the music alongside Timberland – and new cameos from Chris Rock, Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz among others – demonstrates the sheer popularity this show has already gained.
Empire season two gets underway on September 23rd, 2015.