Fox’s new drama "Empire" premieres tonight (January 7), and trust us, you don’t want to miss this soapy new series. It's serving unapologetic melodrama with an urban twist, and everything from the wardrobe to the Shakespeare references are deliciously over the top.
Created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong (“The Butler”) — with “The L Word's” Ilene Chaiken as showrunner — “Empire” follows hip hop mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) as he’s faced with the challenge of grooming one of his three sons as the sole heir to his music empire, the aptly named Empire Entertainment. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, here are seven more reasons to get psyched for the premiere.
Terrence Howard's scarf game is on point.Fox
We're not entirely sure why Lucious has a thing for scarves and turtlenecks — does his neck get easily irritated by sunlight? — but we aren't mad at it. We haven't seen a character with this much scarf swag since Debra Messing's days on NBC's "Smash."
Taraji P. Henson owns it.Fox
Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie is such a delight to watch. She commands every scene she’s in — even against fellow Academy Award nominee Howard. Lucious' ex-wife Cookie has spent nearly two decades behind bars after taking the fall for the drug-running that financed Empire’s early days. Now, she’s back for what’s hers, and she’s not holding back. Plus, who else could wear this much animal print and still be fierce?
Jussie Smollett's voice is like buttah.Fox
Jussie Smollett has the most to gain from "Empire’s" success. His character Jamal is the emotional crux of the series, and the premiere episode gives us an unsettling glimpse into Lucious and Jamal’s troubled father-son history. Jamal is gay, and unfortunately, his father thinks it's a choice. His daddy issues are apparent in his music, which will most likely make you swoon.
It's personal for Lee Daniels.Fox
"Empire" is partially inspired by Daniels' own experiences. There's a troubling flashback scene in the premiere in which Lucious catches 5-year-old Jamal in Cookie's scarf and high heels. He then throws him into a trash can, while Cookie cries for him to stop. Daniels, who is openly gay, recently told The Hollywood Reporter that his own father did to him decades earlier.
There's a "King Lear" reference.Fox
For dramatic effect, obviously.
Gabourey Sidibe throws so much shade.Fox
She plays Lucious' sass-tastic assistant — and Jamal's BFF, maybe? — who is most likely only here for comedic affect, but we'll take it.
Timbaland wrote and produced all of the music.Fox
Don't act like "The Way I Are" wasn't one of your favorite songs of 2007.