By now, you’ve probably either watched or heard of Fox’s new megahit drama, Empire. Since its debut, the show has surprised both viewers and network execs with its impressive and consistently rising ratings. But it seems that’s just the beginning. With the freshman season finale set to air this month, plans for Season 2 are reportedly already in the works, and from the sounds of it, fans should expect the show to get even bigger.
Empire premiered in January to 9.9 million total viewers and a 3.8 rating in the key demo of 18 to 49, surpassing ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder as the year’s top-rated new show among viewers younger than 50. Since then, the show has continued to defy expectations by not just remaining steady but also actually building upon its viewership each week. The show has grown more than 50% during the eight weeks since, the greatest increase in any new broadcast series in a decade. Each episode has seen a rise in ratings, with its latest March 4 episode nabbing 14.3 million viewers and a 5.8 demo score.
Now the question is, can the show carry this momentum into its second season? With the first season delivering such strong numbers, Season 2 will certainly have a high precedent to live up to. Luckily for viewers, Fox isn’t about to slack on its newest (and desperately needed) hit show. The struggling network recently revealed some of its plans for Empire’s next run, and it looks like it’s ready to out all the stops — including potential cameos from more famous faces.
The first season involved appearances from Jennifer Hudson and Mary Blige. With the show now a bonafide hit, the next season has received even more interest from potential guest stars. One notable name? According to The Hollywood Reporter, Empire co-creator Lee Daniels is heavily courting Oprah Winfrey to make an appearance on the series, although she hasn’t fully committed yet. “I’m wearing her down!” Daniels told the publication.
The show is also drawing interest from critically acclaimed directors. Per THR, Spike Lee reached out to Daniels about helming an episode of the series — a move that took both the latter and co-creator Danny Strong by surprise. “That’s when I realized what a beast Danny and I have created,” Daniels said of Lee’s offer.
Those wishing for more Empire may also be in luck. Fox head David Madden suggests viewers should expect a longer second season, although the exact number of episodes is debated. Strong is open to more than 12 episodes, while Lee would rather keep it to a dozen. Regardless of how many installments there are, both creators do agree on creating a shift, content-wise. Instead of focusing on soap opera-style storylines and music, Daniels is hoping to explore Cookie and Lucius’s more humble beginnings. “I think we’ve seen the opulence,” he told THR, “but now we have to go back to where they come from.” Meanwhile, Strong wants to bulk up the writing staff and is seeking playwrights to balance the show’s soap-style plotlines with more “layered character development.”
As for when Season 2 will air, don’t be surprised if the series comes back sooner than expected. Instead of waiting until midseason 2016, Fox will likely set an earlier return for the show so that impatient fans won’t have to wait as long for their next Empire fix.
Empire currently airs Wednesdays on Fox.