Fox's musical melodrama Empire is officially a phenomenon thanks to a steadily increasing audience, week by week.
This Wednesday's episode netted 12.9 million viewers for a 5.1 rating among 18-49 year olds — a six percent increase from last week's episode, which broke a 23-year Nielsen ratings record.
According to Fox (via Entertainment Weekly), Empire is "the only primetime scripted series to grow in total viewers over each of its first five telecasts since at least 1991."
A broadcast analyst told EW there are no "new historical references for [Empire's] post-premiere growth. It has literally exceeded all Nielsen total viewer records to date.”
Though test audiences — and even exec music producer Timbaland — were wary over the gay content in the first episode, Jamal Lyon's storyline (portrayed by Jussie Smollet) has proven one of the show's strongest selling points, and is hopefully facilitating conversations around the TV in the same way All in the Family did 40 years ago.
Like Cookie in a fur and on a tear, Empire is decimating the competition, with only AMC's The Walking Dead posting up bigger numbers. But with TWD (finally) adding a gay character of its own, the television landscape is only getting queerer from here.
Now, whaddya say we have a kiki over this week's episode, "Our Dancing Days"?
Naomi Campbell reappeared — in full tilt side-eye mode — as Hakeem's cougar girlfriend.
She's tired of being Hakeem's dirty, leggy, heavily-banged secret and rebuffs his attempts to woo her with a nameplate necklace like this is an episode of Sex and the City circa 2002.
She's not having it, nor any of his juvenile slang.
She is a woman, dammit, and Hakeem better start treating her like one before he lands in the hospital with an iPhone 6 through his chest.
Meanwhile, fellow glorious trainwreck Courtney Love also returned as troubled rocker Elle Dallas, only she's not troubled anymore. Cookie's worked her magic and she's as sober as she's going to get — that is until Anika pulls the old poison in the tea cup trick.
Yes, we've gotten to Shakespearean levels of deceit.
What's the tea, Elle? Poison!
Next thing you know, she's '90s Courtney Love.
But Cookie's not about to Live Through This.
And she leaves Elle to an uncertain fate.
Later, Lucious reveals his terminal diagnosis (he's got ALS aka Lou Gehrig's disease) to his family. Andre doesn't take it well.
But Cookie has her own way of dealing with the news.
This quickly leads to this.
Which quickly leads to Cookie's Louboutins flying across the room.
Only, Anika catches them in the act, but respectfully lets them finish.
And finally, may we have a moment of silence for JaMichael.
It looks like Jamal and Michael have called it quits after Jamal threw his boyfriend into the closet and under the bus last week. But fear not, there's another man on the horizon, and he's got even better hair.
With only a few more episodes left till the finale, the ball's in Empire's court. Just pass it, and all the awards, to series MVP Taraji P. Henson.
Les Fabian Brathwaite, the shiznayee. You should follow his example — bitch, i.e.