So I’m a sucker for a new show that has a diverse cast or cast of color. I’m even more of sucker for musicals. And when I watched Lee Daniel’s Empire I had big expectations. After all, I really enjoyed The Butler. And I must say, the show didn’t disappoint, entertainment wise.
However, I am really surprised at the amount of clichés and stereotypes that are on this show. I think I expected more from someone who did The Butler. But hey we love a good urban drama now and then and the music, I think, is good. So what, you ask, caught my eye as clichéd? Here are top things I noticed that make me clutch my pearls in disapproval:
· Ghetto fabulous, angry black woman- Now Cookie (Taraji P. Henson’s character who makes this show I must say) was angry for good reason. And I get why the conflict is needed but it could have been done differently with still the same outcome.
· Black men with money gravitating to women who are “light” or white (especially blond) – It happens many times in Hollywood but it felt so formulaic or expected here.
· Feminizing the gay man- The middle son doesn’t even strike me as the “stereotypical” gay man. Why make him walk around in heels as a child? That didn’t fit what I saw of him. He’s a normal guy who happens to like men.
· Ghetto rapper- The younger son is an animal to me. Like was he raised at all? How did his brothers get so put together and we have the wannabe thug? Is that real? He clearly didn’t grow up struggling. Probably had the best education. So where is this coming from?
· Politically incorrect comments going unchecked – This is especially true towards the Hispanic boyfriend of the middle son. Lets not ask him why he isn’t cleaning up the place. Let’s not call him Dora. Ok thanks. I know it’s entertainment but would we be laughing if a white woman was calling a black female Precious (and no worries, I won’t touch Gabby Sidebe’s character, I like her)?
· Women fighting over a man- Yes Terrance is good looking but the cattiness is not needed. This is not Love and Hiphop- wait, it kind of is. Well, here’s to hoping Taraji’s and Malik’s or even Cuba’s characters get together (that would be cute, no?)
· Women laying down with a man without so much as a date- So the youngest brother gets the girl he’s eyeing by doing…? Nothing! Literally, not even a date and some roses. She wants to hook up with him simply from seeing him rap. Guys, for a lot of us, it’s not that darn easy!
· Men disrespecting black women- I get that Cookie is aggressive and hood but I am so tired of men just casually calling her the B word and coming at her like they are about to fight her. My stomach rumbled when her son threw the B word at her. Where do they do that at? I don’t condone violence but I kind of approved her hitting him with the broom.
· All black people know each other and will “go off” on one another- Sooo, the young son says something wrong about Obama. Are we really to buy that Obama is the type to call a record mogul and actually curse him out because a random wannabe thug has some bad words for him? Can’t we have a more respectable image of the president? Lee….c’mon.
I get what Lee Daniel’s doing. Who is to say that this isn’t really what goes on in urban music settings? And as “rachet” reality TV has shown us, well, people in real life are willing to fulfil roles that most of America already thinks we own. But I just need more shows that show my reality instead of glamourizing stereotypes. I’m not Scandal, I’m not Empire. I love both shows and know their role isn’t to represent us all. But it’d be nice to find a show that shows another side (I think Blackish is on its way to doing that). So Empire makes for an entertaining show but it sure does have me popping antacid with all the cliché foolishness and the shots it takes on the black image.