After the nominees for the 67the Primetime Emmy Awards were announced, TV viewers wondered why "Empire" was shut off. Creator Lee Daniel didn't take it kindly, tweeting his disappointment. The highest rated show in decades only got a nod in the costume and lead actress categories. There was a good chance that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Screen Actors Guild won't overlook it.
It was supposed to be a limited series, but the extent of its excess was beyond what Daniels and the rest of the production team expected. The second season was out. (Marisa Tomei is one of the guest stars.) What are the reasons behind this phenomenon? Let's take a look:
King Lear. There was nothing new about the show. In fact, older couch potatoes would remember the soap operas that rules primetime television during the 1980s. They lost count of the affairs (left and right), the cat fights (between the female members of the cast), and the stingy one liners. It was a rich man's world, but majority of Americans didn't grow up inside a gilded cage. Lee Daniels was clever to use "King Lear" as a starting point for his screenplay. The majority of the characters are colored, which some would see as novelty. You also can't go wrong with the Bard. The same thing goes to "Dynasty" and other primetime soaps.
Taraji P. Henson. She's probably the main reason why many viewers are hooked to the show. She was jailed for more than a decade for drugs, and her husband was smart to use the (drug) money to build a recording company. They once lived in the tough neighborhood. They can sing. They have a vision. Perhaps this is the reinvention of the American Dream. Henson has the best lines, her character is what keeping her family together. She also doesn't mince words, which won her lots of admirers. (Henson would admit that she based her character from her father.) Henson and Viola Davis were nominated for the Best Actress Emmy (in Drama). They were the first African-American nominees in this contested category. It was history in the making.
Terence Howard. The sequel to Iron Man might have been different if Marvel Studios didn't replace Terence Howard. It might be due to salary, but the actor was one of the reasons why the first installment of the Iron Man trilogy was perfect. Howard wasn't the first choice for the pivotal role of the patriarch of this troubled family. It was hard to tell if there was truth behind Howard's attitude behind the camera, but he could act. Henson was right to persuade the producers to hire him.
Soundtrack. The soundtrack reached the top of the Billboard 200 album chart. Nothing surprising about it, as Lee Daniels even let the cast sing their own tunes. It's hip and pleasing (to the ears). And there's no shortage of artists making a guess appearance.
Drugs, lies, and music. The series revolve around the three, providing a fragile platform for the cast to climb up and face uncharted regions. It's hard to tell if the show will be around a few years from now, but viewers can find redeeming values. Blood is thicker than water.