Wednesday, April 24, 2024

“Empire,” Once a Force for Fox with 17 Million Viewers, Finishes Six Season Run in Tatters With Less Than 3 Mil Fans


“Empire” was such a monster hit when it ended its first season on March 18, 2015 , 17.6 million people tuned in for the big cliffhanger. The show had debuted on January 7, 2015.

Five years and six seasons later, “Empire” ended last night with just 2.94 million fans still interested in the fate of the Lyons family.

“Empire” was a rocket with no engine. The Lee Daniels soap opera about the Lyons and their Empire Records company didn’t pace itself. It burned through guest stars and crazy plots at a dizzying speed. They never teased anything, or spaced out a story. They just blew through everything and everyone without looking back.

Starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, “Empire” had three strong seasons, a tepid fourth season. By the 5th season interest was already waning when cast member Jussie Smollett got involved in a scandal in Chicago. He said he’d been mugged in a racial and sex-centered hate attack. But when his story proved unfounded, headlines pounded away. Smollett was fired from the show, but the damage was done. “Empire” quickly crumbled.

It didn’t help that the sixth and last season was foreshortened by coronavirus. Production shut down before the actual final episode could be filmed. Last night’s show, which was likely its last, wasn’t what the producers wanted. But by the time it was over, a reasonable ending was capped onto the last episode filmed. They could come back. But would anyone care?

My guess is, “Empire” returns in five years with new actors and characters a la “Will and Grace.” It’s time to let nostalgia set in.

PS As I wrote in the previous item about Prince’s tribute on CBS, it wasn’t nice of the Tiffany network to schedule that show against “Empire.” You know their thinking– black, music, etc–so let’s try and steal that audience. “Empire” may pick up a few more points from delayed viewing.




Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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