Back to IndieWire

Tavis Smiley Ponders Whether ‘Empire’ Shows “The Worst of Every Pathology That Black People Have”

Tavis Smiley Ponders Whether 'Empire' Shows "The Worst of Every Pathology That Black People Have"

Tonight on “PoliticKING with Larry King,” guest Tavis Smiley weighs in on Fox’s hit TV series “Empire.”

Below is a transcript of a sneak preview of the interview, as well as a clip from the episode:

KING: But on the other hand, the hottest show on television is “Empire”.
SMILEY: That is true.
KING: Number one. “Blackish” is doing very, very well. Although someone in the New York Post called that a racist show.
SMILEY: I don’t think that’s the case, but the “Empire” thing is fascinating, because the show is doing remarkably well and yet there are a lot of African Americans, the show had 21 million viewers I think on it’s final episode, there’s a lot of people who love the show, obviously not just African Americans. But there’s a debate in the black community that hasn’t really surfaced, hasn’t really boiled to the top yet, but I hear it in barber shops and other places, Larry, about whether or not the problem with “Empire” is that it advances the worst of every pathology that black people have. Crime, and drug dealing, and this and that, and the other, so I think a lot of people are looking for some positive characters that may come out in the second season, but the first season is everybody’s, ahh!
KING: That’s why my friend Mario Cuomo hated “The Godfather”. It was so well done.
SMILEY: Exactly.
KING: It was too well done.
SMILEY: Exactly.

His concerns certainly aren’t new, as others have voiced them previously. But he has a platform that most of us don’t, and I’m curious to see where the conversation leads…

Watch the clip below. To see the full conversation, tune in to “PoliticKING with Larry King,” which air’s on cable TV, every Tuesday and Thursday, at 6 pm, 9 pm, and 11 pm ET, on RT America. The show is also available on demand online at and

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged ,