If you’re like me, then you’ve been reading a million and one articles analyzing the record-breaking success of Fox’s breakout hit show Empire. After reading Vulture’s beautifully designed charts-on-charts full of data among other factoids following this week, I got to thinking about how and why viewership of females age 35+ ranks so highly on a show that probably could have attracted much younger viewers.
Really, it should be no surprise at all that a prime time series based upon an urban record label would resonate so loudly with fans from all walks of life, particularly when the Hip Hop culture and music genre is about four decades old now. But for Empire, it’s bigger than Hip Hop.
As Vulture points out in their “Empire Effect” article, people were just ready for something fun. Yes indeed, they do bring the fun! But how did this racy gem become your mom‘s fave new delight? No worries Y’ers and Z’ers… we’ll try to answer that for you.
Here are just a few reasons why your mom loves Empire.
Rich people being messy is always fun!
Vulture is 100% on point, dubbing Empire “an 80s-style prime time soap opera”. When Gen-Xers were kids, pre-MTV, there were not many channels to choose from, let alone good dramatic shows. We had a lot of variety hours, sitcoms, talk shows, etc. but if you wanted drama, you had to turn to the soaps in the afternoon, or the big scandalous shows like Dallas or Dynasty at night.
Empire brings us back to a familiar era of watching pretty, petty rich folks who have nothing better to do than stab each other in the back and kill each other off. Your mom loves that, because it blatantly reminds her that everyone has problems.
Now if only we didn’t know who shot Bunky or who walloped Vernon… we need some Dallas and Dynasty-style cliffhangers next season.
It’s an escape from reality.
By the time your mom gets to sit down in front of the TV at night for Empire, she’s already worked at the office, done some house work, and, if you still live at home, dealt with whatever shit you decided to dole out to screw up what little personal time she may have had.
She’s ready for a break, and Empire is going to give her that getaway. Not to mention she has something to talk about with her friends on Facebook and Twitter, so she can stay off the comments section of your page for the evening. Be thankful.
Stop! Cougar time!
Whether your mom is married and in a nice “routine” with the family, or she is single and lonely as hell, she is never going to pass up the opportunity to imagine herself as the hot middle-aged Camilla getting her some barely legal nookie from Hakeem.
Your mom is human, and once upon a time she was probably a babe herself. Even the thought of Hakeem getting at his almost step-mom Anika (aka Boo Boo Kitty) who is right around 12 years his senior could be alluring to an older woman’s imagination. Let mom have a moment. Going forward, 9-10pm is a no-hate zone.
Cookie, Cookie and more Cookie.
When Cookie comes home from a 17-year bid at the beginning of the series, she is all balls and bravado as she marches in to claim her stake in Empire Entertainment. Cookie loves hard and fights hard, and women can relate to that. The best thing about Cookie is her ability to speak her mind, no matter what the topic or circumstances. Your mom roots for her on every single episode.
The guest appearances are exciting.
Everyone loves seeing familiar faces like Courtney Love, Malik Yoba, Mary J Blige, Naomi Campbell, Raven Simone, and vets like Patti LaBelle when they make their appearances on the show, or Mario Van Peebles and Debbie Allen showing up as directors. Empire’s team has done a terrific job of reeling in big names, and even potential Season 2 guest stars are making headlines already.
Of course we love watching Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson in their roles, because they have consistently been a part of our movie experience for 20 and 15 years, respectively. Your mom loves seeing good film actors on TV every week. Who wouldn’t?
Hip Hop was/is your mom’s thing too.
Now, if your mom listens to a drippity-drop of Hip Hop, then she knows the original music on Empire isn’t epic. It won’t matter what race your mom is, or what her background in music was, because everyone’s mom in 2015 knows the lyrics to (at the very least) “Baby Got Back”, “Wild Thing” and/or “Gin & Juice” when it’s time for karaoke night.
Given that Timbaland is the musical director for the show, Empire‘s soundtrack has those glimmers of familiarity that made us love Aaliyah, Ginuwine, Jodeci, Missy Elliott and even Jay-Z in the ’90s. Glimmers I say, because the production and songwriting quality on the show is not on par with the greatest hits of Timbaland. But still, it’s familiar and comfortable.
The big buzz of the week was that the Empire soundtrack hit #1 on the charts, beating out Madonna. Let’s say that again. They beat out Madonna. Your mom didn’t buy Madonna’s album, because she, like most women who idolized the “Like A Virgin” or even “Express Yourself” Madonna stopped listening to Madonna a decade ago. But she may have bought Empire, because even with so-so beats and lyrics, it’s 100% more on her agenda than listening to than your latest Migos album.
If you know of more reasons why your mom loves Empire, feel free to drop them in the comments. We look forward to more family viewing for Season 2!