I was watching American Idol last night since the rumor was that a bartender / singer / drag performer from Portland, Maine was going to be on (another article to come soon). Thinking that it was a 2 hour premiere last night, I left FOX on, but no second hour. Instead, the premiere of Empire was on. Oh, should I give a new show a try? Sure, why not.
As the first half hour wound down, I didn't care for it too much. The acting was par and the story lines were developing, a little slowly and predictable, but still entertaining. I thought the music was pretty good while other critics have said it lacked the quality and creativity they were expecting.
Will I watch it again? Yes. Why? Mainly due to Jamal, a gay R & B artist played by Jussie Smollett. I would love to see where FOX takes this actor and the story line he is working with. I think my favorite aspect of Jamal's character is that he is not weighted down with all the gay stereotypes we are use to Network and Cable television throwing in our face. There isn't any "Just Jack" persona or wearing pastels or isn't waving his hands around in the air while critiquing outfits and drapes. It is good to see that they are able to portray another type of gay male. Is there anything wrong with the Jacks and the Kurts? Not at all, but it is nice to see this character being added to the list. So don't put my head on a spike or rant and rave about how drag queens have gotten us to where we are today. I know all that. Like I said, it is just nice to see a different facet of our community portayed on televison. I thought the same thing when they introduced Nolan, played by Gabriel Mann, on Revenge.
Jamal does fit a couple of stereotypes. He's a momma's boy, he is creative, and he likes men. He also has the stereotypical overweight "fag-hag" named Becky (that was creative) played by our Precious Gabourey Sidibe as well as a sexy latino boyfriend (I wish that stereotype was true in the real world). Was developing Jamal in this fashion done on the part of FOX in order to have this character be accepted by more fans than a Kurt Hummel? Or was it done to maybe even attract a gay crowd that is looking for a character written like Jamal? Another character design choice was making Jamal the middle child of the family. Surprise! He's pretty much overlooked by his father Lucious Lyon (played by Terrence Howard). Gay and the middle child? It seems there was no hope for him from the start!
What is in store for Jamal? Well he will have to battle for the control of the record label from his dying father and against his older business savvy brother and his lesser talented gangster type rapper younger brother while balancing his controlling ex-con mother and the rest of what may come his way. Simple stuff we are all used to right?
Will you watch it? Did you see the preview? What may draw you in and definitely caught my attention was Jamal's / Jussie's episode stealing song Good Enough. Watch the video below and listen to the lyrics. I am sure it will strike a chord with many of you. If it does, maybe you could give Empire a try.