Empire is a ratings phenomenon unlike anything on television in years, or maybe ever. The number of people watching each episode has increased without fail for each of the show’s nine episodes. It’s handily outdoing American Idol, once an unstoppable phenomenon, now Fox’s Wednesday night warmup act. The social media buzz is off the charts, with GIFs of Cookie being Cookie and clips from the original songs reliably popping up on Twitter each week.
All of this buzz prompts the question: is the show, created by Lee Daniels (Precious, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) and Danny Strong (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire screenwriter and onetime Mad Men recurring character), any good?
The answer is complicated. I watched all eight of the show’s non-pilot episodes in one fell swoop yesterday afternoon, and I’m not sure I’d call Empire good so much as savvy.