Guilty pleasures are pretty commonplace in society, when giving into temptation probably isn’t the best idea, but you just can’t help it.
From a young age, a guilty pleasure of mine that’s developed over time is cheesy, T.V. dramas that are so ridiculous but too addictive to stop watching.
My tastes have evolved as I’ve gotten older; from the good ol’ days when I sat in front of our family’s television to watch “Days of Our Lives” with my mom, to now binge-watching “Scandal” most days of the week. Both are somewhat theatrical in content, but still draw viewers into all sorts of drama that can unfold in the span of 45 minutes. This phenomena is present in the hip-hop drama “Empire” that teeters the line between being a T.V. drama and soap opera, even viewing one episode.
Take the most recent episode, “True Love Never,” which debuted Nov. 11 on Fox. As an avid Netflix-watcher, I had never seen an episode of “Empire” before, but after the first 15 minutes I could definitely see the appeal the show has on the good number of people who tune in every week. Family conflict mixing with the struggles of running up-and-coming businesses takes a toll, but can also be the platform for lots of rivalry, scandal, sex and sometimes all of the above.
Thankfully, it doesn’t take a “Empire”-virgin long to figure out the gist of what conflicts ail the main characters.
Cookie Lyon, played by Taraji P. Henson, is the successful head of Lyon Dynasty, a rival entertainment company to Empire Entertainment, where her ex-husband Lucius Lyon, played by Terrence Howard, is CEO. Though they don’t speak to one another, you can tell by the way they handle their employees, which include their three sons, that they don’t mess around and are willing to do whatever it takes to outdo the other.
At one point, Lucius knocks out a prospective business partner during a sparring match, only to have his business partner Mimi drug and convince the man to draw up a merger contract. While Cookie, on the other hand, juggles several things: sleeping with an employee who may or may not be swindling her for money; spending time with her middle son Jamal who seems to be caught in the middle; and also trying to keep the youngest son Hakeem from getting much responsibility out of a company he’s partially running.
While all of the drama bubbles between different clusters of people, there’s internal drama as well within these extremely talented characters.
Lucius, who seems to be flashing back and forth between reality and a memory of his mother trying to commit suicide, uses the emotional pain to help rapper Frida to write an amazing song. Right after he nearly has a drunken threesome, of course.
The Lyon sons are also conflicted by the predicaments they seem to be in, whether it’s mixing love and business with a rising star, or trying to find acceptance in the industry when both parents are at opposing ends of the spectrum.
So many probing questions come up while you get closer to the end of the episode. What’s Laz going to do once he’s got Cookie’s money? Does this mean Hakeem and Laura are now officially a fling? Did that pastor just get Andre to blackmail the deputy mayor?! Where can I download all of these amazing songs? But ultimately, one question stands out above the rest: what the hell did I just watch, and are there more episodes like it? And like that, the possibility of a new guilty pleasure is born.