Everyone is trying figure out why Jussie Smollett got himself into this mess. Why would a hot young actor in a hit series create a scandal that keeps unraveling and looking worse and worse?
Maybe one answer can be found in the ratings for “Empire.” Once a show that everyone watched and talked about, “Empire” is starting to fade, and fast.
When the show returns on March 13th, “Empire” will be down over 10% in total viewers from its previous season and 16% in the key demo of 18-49.
The last season, which started in September, returned with just 6 million viewers. The second week saw a decline of 1 million. On November 14th, the number dropped below 5 million to 4.8 million. The show finished on December 5th with just over 5 million total, and a weak 1.50 in the demo.
Was Smollett worried about the ratings? His so-called mugging was the most publicity “Empire” has had in eons. Whether Smollett’s story turns out to be true or not, it will definitely have an impact on the March 13th return. It could be this was some kind of misguided effort to get attention.
It’s not “Empire” would be cancelled. Even with 5 million viewers, the show remains a hit for Fox. But a 7th season ending doesn’t seem out of the question. The thrills of “Empire”– a show that burns through plot faster than Donald Trump on Adderall– are less a novelty than ever before. The ratings are slowly draining. After this new, sixth season the odds are it will be time to say goodbye– even if a comeback is plotted a few years down the line.
If “Empire” ended, the main stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson could book new TV roles or pursue their movie careers. Taraji is starring right now in “What Men Want.” But Smollett and the other young people would be at the same crossroads as other TV actors coming off hits. Nothing is guaranteed.