Well, that’s if, folks. Fox drama Empire will get one last season and that is all. The show has been canceled after months of turmoil over the fake hate crime report made in Chicago by series star Jussie Smollett.
“Just two weeks after the Charlie Collier-run Fox Entertainment renewed Lee Daniels and Danny Strong’s hip hop drama for a sixth season and showed controversy led Jussie Smollett towards the exit door, it was announced today on Fox’s Upfront call that the self-described ‘groundbreaking cultural phenomenon’ of Empire will be canceled once Season 6 is done,” Deadline reported.
Producers said that contractually they have the option to bring Smollett back. But they also don’t have any plans to do so.
Of course, now that we know the show is finished, how much you want to bet they bring him back at the tail-end of the last season for a big “surprise” finale.
Still, Smollett really destroyed the show.
The African American music drama used to have fairly steady ratings, but with all the focus on the lies made by the series’ breakout star, things began getting shaky.
The series at first tried to stand behind Smollett’s lies about being attacked in downtown Chicago by two white, male, Trump supporters. But once his story collapsed, people began to hold the show to account.
Oh, sure, the left-wing black actors never wavered in their support of their lying castmate, but producers began to realize just how badly their show was being hit in people’s minds.
First, producers deleted Smollett from the last few episodes of the 2018 season — just as the controversy was hitting the news.
Then, when they announced the 2019 season, they said that Smollett was not coming back.
Smollett really hurt the show, of course. In January when temperatures in Chicago was hovering around a polar vortex, Smollett claimed that when he was out getting a sandwich at 2 AM on a weekday, two “white men wearing MAGA hats” beat him up, poured bleach on him, hung a noose around his neck, and yelled ‘this is MAGA country’ at him.”
But an investigation by the Chicago Police Dept. found video evidence that two black men that Smollett knew was seen in a hardware store buying bleach, rope, and red ball caps. Then police found a check for ten grand that Smolett had written his two friends. Police say the two told them that Smollett hired them to beat him up because he intended to make a big media firestorm over being attacked so he could then use the notoriety to boost his Empire salary.
He lied. And then he was indicted for lying. Anyway, all this REALLY hurt the show. So, bye bye Empire.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.