Empire: Season 1 (2015)



Critic Consensus: Though heavy on melodrama, Empire elevates the nighttime soap with its top-notch cast, musical entertainment, and engrossing plots.


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Air date: Jan 7, 2015
Air date: Jan 14, 2015
Air date: Jan 21, 2015
Air date: Jan 28, 2015
Air date: Feb 4, 2015
Air date: Feb 11, 2015
Air date: Feb 18, 2015
Air date: Feb 25, 2015
Air date: Mar 4, 2015
Air date: Mar 11, 2015
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In the first season of this drama, music mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is informed he only has three years to live after being diagnosed with ALS. This just after he announces plans to take Empire Entertainment, a world-famous record company he runs with his family, public. Acting as a hip-hop King Lear, the patriarch realizes he must cede the keys to his kingdom to a worthy successor, and so he pits his three sons against one another in a battle for control of his multi-million dollar throne. The Lyon boys couldn't be more different: There's college-educated, business-minded executive Andre (Trai Byers); the talented and sensitive singer-songwriter Jamal (Jussie Smollett); and brash rapper Hakeem (Bryshere Gray). But they aren't the only ones vying for the dynasty when Lucious' ex-wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) is released from prison after having served a 17-year sentence for hustling drugs, the profits from which were used by Lucious to start Empire.


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Critic Reviews for Empire Season 1

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (26)

It roars into view and keeps everything humming throughout its all-important first episode.

Jan 7, 2015 | Rating: B | Full Review…
Top Critic

The series' sudsy premise might work if it were matched by more energy in the acting and staging, but the presentation suggests we're supposed to take the action seriously. Most viewers will simply shrug.

Jan 7, 2015 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Empire soars highest when probing the conflicts and contradictions of the black family, making high drama out of the dysfunction lying just beneath the surface.

Jan 7, 2015 | Full Review…
Top Critic

It is sort of hip-hop Nashville, but so what? Why not hip-hop Nashville?

Jan 7, 2015 | Full Review…
Top Critic

With plot to spare, Empire surely has something for everyone.

Jan 7, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Tense and tawdry, Empire is the rare network drama to know exactly what it is from the jump.

Jan 7, 2015 | Full Review…

King Lear meets Dynasty in lurid hip hop drama.

Jul 24, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Forget TV dramas about police departments and hospital wards - a show about a record label comes with all that conflict, plus outfits, plus songs.

Sep 12, 2017 | Full Review…

One hopes that Daniels and writer Danny Strong, who teamed up on the 2013 civil rights film The Butler, can keep this good stuff coming even as they follow their over-the-top storyline to its sudsy conclusion.

Sep 13, 2016 | Full Review…

Musical melodrama explores family, fame, and homophobia.

Dec 23, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Empire: Season 1

Its just trash to me

Surrounded Terrence with a week cast only one on the show with any talent

This show is apparently casted with a bunch of racists. Pathetic to use the lgbt community to advance your career and make it hurt those in actual hate crimes. EMPIRE you support this- PATHETIC

j f

This was absolute crap. I heard such good thing about the show and I felt as though I should be sueing my cable provider for allowing the disgusting violent filth on my DVR. If you want to watch this cause you heard it was good or because you heard it had attractive people in it don't, you'll waste time when you could be watching something else like criminal minds or smallville, for instance.

Never have a seen such s poorly written piece of trash that panders to the lowest common denominator. The plot is spoon fed and predictable, and it perpetuates stereotypes that most of us do not aspire to. Not all black folks are like this people, and your kids shouldn’t look up to these type of nonsense characters. I love Terrence Howard and Taraji, this show is no better than here comes honey boo boo. These rolls are beneath Terrence and taraji, they deserve so much better.

The acting is unbelievable. Each episode left you hanging on the edge waiting until the next following Wednesday night. What I found so interesting about the three season that have aired on television is how strong of a bond they have while the cameras are rolling. Of course it’s their job to give a good show, but it makes you feel like you’re a part of a live family stream. The love, lust, and pain that’s in each season is real you can feel every bit of emotion that the actress fill in the scene as if you are a part of the cast. It makes you think twice; dang is this what it’s really like in the music industry. How far they will go to keep their family business a legacy is jaw dropping. The fact that they are willing to bend their back weather its benefiting them or the company is crazy. This just comes to shows you how everyone can’t be trusted that you think is good for you.

One of the soap operas of the past decade and Taraji P. Henson is amazing as Cookie.

Excellent and addictive

When the matriarch is released from prison, the entire family involved in the music industry's secrets are revealed. Empire is a clever drama with a lot of good tunes and a complex storyline, though ridiculous at times, it is a well crafted entertainment.

Sylvester K


I keep on watching, but the plot is predictable and other than Taraji Henson, Gabourey Sidibe, and Ta'Rhonda Jones the acting in this first season was atrocious. Hopefully Season 2 has more to offer.

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