I am not a big TV watcher, I hardly follow any shows, even the greatest shows I have very little interest in. Not because I wouldn’t enjoy them, but I don’t have time for TV, I love being active, doing “stuff” and watching TV is too passive for me. But once in a while a show comes along that speaks to me on a deeper level, resonates with me to my core, and at times even brings tears to my eyes. Empire is that show!
I did not watch it from the start, actually, I didn’t even start to watch it until after the final episode had aired, but I finally gave in and watched the Pilot (the first episode) and I am so glad I did. Halfway through the episode I knew I would like the show, but it wasn’t until the third episode I loved it.
The story is about a gangster rapper, Lucious Lyon, turned music mogul that becomes a part of the establishment as he is trying to take his record label to a public offering. Think a story about Jay Z and Beyonce in 20years. Besides it being an entertaining show with drama, glamour, family, love and spectacular music, it’s the deeper, previously untold storylines that resonates with me. Especially the storyline about the middle son Jamal.
Of course Jamal is damn good looking, talented and charming as anything, but what speaks to me is the struggles of growing up being gay, not being accepted, face hardship but coming out stronger on the other side. There’s something to be said about “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
More or less my entire upbringing and time in school I was either bullied, physically and emotionally or an outsider. I still have physical scars on my body as reminders of being beaten; but I have no scars on my soul or my spirit. I am emotionally stronger than most might at first realize, and I have a genuine confidence that whatever comes my way, I can handle it. I have resilience and it gives me the confidence to take chances. This makes me a very positive person, because I don’t take hardships as something that will push me down, I see it as a time to get focused, determined and act. I do not take shit sitting down, and it would be very hard to break my spirit. I have pride, know who I am and I am completely ok with it. It doesn’t make me cold, aggressive or full of myself, because I genuinely believe in the Golden Rule: Do to other’s as you want done to yourself and I actually have a strong belief in the good of people.
I know that was a lot of background on me considering this post being about the TV shows Empire. But in the show, it has been known that Jamal has been “different” (read gay) his entire life and it has meant that he’s been exposed to emotional and physical abuse, but as the show progresses, you see that he’s not a passive pushover you first think, and in actuality, he’s clearly the strongest among the sons, but even stronger than his dad, Lucious Lyon. And he’s got the resilience and fighting spirit from his mother, Cookie, but with a bit more tact.
I also love that Jamal has a strong sense of family and responsibility so that when he learns he’s the father of the most adorable little girl Lola, he doesn’t shy away of stepping into the father roll. I think the gay community is plagued by the Peter Pan syndrome of never wanting to grow up, take on responsibility and a belief life is all about partying, drinking and hookups, with a perpetual fear of growing old and boring. I am a proud gay man, but that’s not me and I like the fact that a story about a gay man that I can relate to is being told. Now don’t take me wrong, anyone that has met me knows I like to look good, take care of myself to stay young and of course I like a nice party like everyone else! But in reality I am a total nester and homebody. I love staying home with Jose and the puppies just enjoying each other’s company. And if it wasn’t so damn hard to practically figure out how to have kids, I would probably have two. Jose often says that my parental instincts are directed towards Lukas and Crystal and that’s why I am so crazy about them, and he’s not wrong. I can tell you that.
I have bought the full season of Empire and I have already watched it twice. Although, at first, I didn’t like Cookie, the mother of Jamal and his two brother’s because I felt like she was too stereotypical “ghetto fabulous,” as the season progresses she develops into such an amazing character. At this point, I am a complete “Cookie Monster” as fans of Cookie call themselves.
No conversation about Empire would be complete without mentioning the original music that is so seamlessly and naturally woven into the storyline. All the music is by Timberland and he’s truly managed to write and arraign very stylistically different sounds to fit the different characters, move the storyline forward and actually make the viewer FEEL on a deeper level. It’s brilliant!
In short, the show is pure entertainment that have borrowed many story telling tricks from soap operas and Tele Novellas, but it’s foundation is in the human experience, which makes it real. Of course beautiful people, luxurious settings and spectacular fashion is the icing on the cake! Not to talk about the stunning stiletto heels the women wear, or Cookie’s furs.
All pictures are from Fox’s TV Show Empire.