Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

6 Ways to Fix 'Empire'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

6 Ways to Fix 'Empire'

Article excerpt

As the saying goes, what goes up must come down, and that's certainly true for the crumbling "Empire."

TV's hippest and juiciest new hit, starring Terrence Howard and Emmy nominee Taraji P. Henson as the patriarch and matriarch of the Lyons family, remains bigger than almost everything else on television.

But this current second season of the Fox show, nearing its midpoint, is in the throes of a sophomore slump with much of its soapy lather seemingly washed away.

The new season opened with Cookie (Henson) in a cage wearing a gorilla suit and mostly went downhill from there, right alongside ratings that hit a season low with the Nov. 11 episode.

We've also seen a head in a box, Chris Rock playing a hardened criminal, Boo Boo Kitty (Grace Gealey) twerking, Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) kidnapped , Lucious (Howard) recording a hit song in prison, and something called "Boom Boom Boom Boom," all mixed in with the usual betrayals and backstabbing.

The show that proved unstoppable its first season, increasing viewers with each new episode, is seemingly tapped out.

Ratings for the first episode this season were impressive at 16.1 million viewers. But the next week, it was down to 13.7 million viewers, the first viewership drop in the show's history. The third episode drew 13.1 million viewers, followed by 12.2 million viewers the fourth and fifth weeks and 11.6 million its sixth week. The Nov. 11 episode drew 11.2 million viewers. Wednesday's episode, which featured Vivica A. Fox guest starring as Cookie's sister, showed a slight uptick with 11.3 million viewers.

Story lines have dropped in and out, and the music, so promising last season, is not so catchy anymore.

Many viewers also have been balking on social media about dropping "Empire" because of its gay content and of openly gay co- creator Lee Daniels' so-called "gay agenda." Actor-singer Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal, is gay. His character, a gay, African- American man with a boyfriend to boot, is rarely seen on network TV and rattles some viewers.

"Empire" can be fixed, though. Here are some suggestions.

1. Slow down

The frenzied storylines are introduced and then dropped. …

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