Empire: Season 1 - Rotten Tomatoes

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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Tv Season Info

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.


Terrence Howard
as Lucious Lyon
Taraji P. Henson
as Cookie Lyon
Malik Yoba
as Vernon Turner
Jussie Smollett
as Jamal Lyon
Bryshere Y. Gray
as Hakeem Lyon
Trai Byers
as Andre Lyon
Grace Byers
as Anika Calhoun
Grace Gealey
as Anika Calhoun, Anika Gibbons
Kaitlin Doubleday
as Rhonda Lyon
Rafael De La Fuente
as Michael Sanchez
as Tiana Brown
Derek Luke
as Malcom
Macy Gray
as Tasha
Judd Nelson
as Billy Beretti
as Delphine
Courtney Love
as Elle Dallas
Jennifer Hudson
as Michelle White
Tasha Smith
as Carol Hardaway
Nealla Gordon
as Agent Harlow Carter
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News & Interviews for Empire: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Empire: Season 1

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (27)

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

January 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.

January 7, 2015 | Full Review…

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.

January 7, 2015 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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

January 7, 2015 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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

January 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.

January 7, 2015 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Empire: Season 1


Super Reviewer


Super Reviewer

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.


Super Reviewer

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