Did “Empire” Dodge a Bougie Bullet?


What all do “black-ish”, “Scandal”, “How to Get Away With Murder” (HTGAWM) and “Empire” have in common? Pretty obvious. Each stars a leading black cast or actress. But in particular it’s the television shows genre that highlight each success.

“black-ish” is comedy based off a suburban black family of six whose parental system consist of an anesthesiologist, the mother, and a father, who is an advertising executive.

“Scandal” is a political drama focused on a former White House employee turned crisis management career woman and her Pope associates (who kill people).

HTGAWM is centered on a kickass fused defense attorney/ part-time law professor and her squad of associates and students turned in-house interns.

Last but not least, “Empire” is the tale of a family who made it to the top and simply trying to stay there. By. Any. Means. Necessary. (Even if it means blood against blood.)

Beyond the ratings, which are remarkably high for each show and continues to prove that black series can hold their own, what is the big deal about the social statuses of these characters?

I came across an article the other day with a lead that I not only thought was irrelevant to the entirety of the article but really made me think, “how boxed in should actors and actresses play on screen when the cast is predominantly black?”

The article described how “Empire” as going against the grain and unparalleled to “conformism” in “black-ish” and  “Scandal” and HTGAWM is littered with “bougie elites”. I felt some type of way about that. There’s nothing wrong with being bougie (if you’re bougie), but when it is placed under a headline that commends one show for striking back against whitewashed television and name-dropping shows that conformed, I have to disagree.

Each of these shows run on the top television networks and besides the comparabiity of black leading roles, I have to say the similarities stop there. If anything these series produce diversity on the televisions screens that replicate reality. Not everybody has to be “scratching and surviving” but mainly I don’t get bougie nor conformism when I watch “Scandal”, HTGAWM nor “black-ish”. I won’t agree that just because a black female character held a high position in the White House, a black female character is a distinguished attorney and professor, and a black family is above middle class is not a “bougie” depiction of black life because the back-story is not a success story from the ghetto. I am a big fan of all fours shows, however you got to hate “blackish-ish” and “Empire” overlap in time slots.

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