I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong. Thankfully it’s not often, but when it happens I can take a slice of humble pie.
For two weeks I heard about a new show that folks on Twitter were raving about. The buzz around Empire was loud and undeniable. My issue with not watching it was Terrence Howard. I’m not a fan of him as an actor and the show was airing on Fox, which recently hasn’t had the best track record for TV. But the numbers spoke for themselves. Since it’s debut, Empire’s ratings have grown each week. For the premiere episode, 9.8 million people tuned in. Episode two had 10.3, episode three had 10.9 and last week’s episode had 11.3 million viewers. Television critics are saying that in 10 years, no prime time show has seen a steady increase in viewers in its first week like this.
But one night I saw a picture on my Twitter timeline of actress Taraji P. Henson, who plays the leading lady on the show, in character. Her outfit was killer! Yes, pure vanity peaked my curiosity. So I pulled up episode one on my PVR, completely anticipating that I’d be turned off before the first commercial break. Well, let’s say that I had my share of humble pie then and there. I not only watched the first episode, I found myself searching for episode 2.
The hip-hop soap operaesque drama airs on Wednesday nights at 9 on Fox (CityTV for us Canadians). What pulled me in was that similar to a Shakespeare play, all the good dirt isn’t revealed in Act I. There are moments of satirical irony where the audience is in on the plot that the characters in the scene don’t have the full scoop on. At other times, the writers give us morsels of information that you know is going to be revealed in all its dramatic glory in coming episodes. And it’s that complexity that has me hooked.
And then there is Cookie! Trash talking, no shit taking, brazen like the sun, bad ass mama Cookie. After serving 17 years in prison, the first episode kicks off with Cookie getting released and reuniting with her musically inclined family. Her ex-husband, Luscious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is head of a record label and decides that he wants his three sons to fight for his throne as head of the company.
Cookie’s one liners will give you whiplash. But your eyes will be glued to the fierce outfits that actress Taraji rocks on the show. From the flashbacks to the 1970s and 1980s as well the present time, Cookie’s wardrobe of fur stoles, animal print, bold colours and thigh high boots are all borderline ghetto fabulous and all sass. Which I love! Topping off her outfits are vibrant lipsticks and often door knocker earrings. Let’s just say, heads turn when Cookie walks in.
The show’s costume designer Rita McGhee was recently interviewed by Essence Magazine and spoke on Cookie’s style –
“She likes bold colors; she likes loud colors. She likes all the animal prints, tigers, zebras. She likes the leathers, she likes the fur, and she likes the loud colors. So she blings and she’s loud and ostentatious but also in a way that’s just refined style.”
She said she took from Beyonce, Mary J Blige and mob wives as inspiration for Cookie’s look. Larger than life women who not only have drama around them, but aren’t afraid to deal with it head on.
With only four episodes in, I’m hooked. Looking forward to seeing where this show goes and what Cookie will say and wear next.