Toward the end of the first season of Empire, the prime-time soap opera about a music mogul and his dysfunctional family, the clan’s patriarch, Lucius Lyon (played by Terrence Howard), boldly proclaims: “Witness as Empire becomes synonymous with American culture.”
In the scene, Lyon is promoting his fictional record company, but the character could easily be talking about the real television show, which is set to return to the air for its second season on Sept. 23.
The first season of FOX’s series was a massive hit by any measure—a true cultural phenomenon across multiple mediums. In fact, its two-part finale garnered 2.4 million Tweets on March 18, 2015, making it the most-Tweeted TV series episode of the season.
Empire’s popularity spans ages and demographics, but its appeal last season was especially evident among African-Americans: it was the top-rated television show among that group during the 2014-2015 debut season, as an average of 11 million African-Americans tuned to each episode live or within 7 days using time-shifting.
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