Mr. Squigglekins and I are huge fans of Fox’s musical-drama show Empire. Luscious Lyon, a successful musician and CEO is diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He has to choose one of his three sons to be his successor of his company, Empire Entertainment. I enjoy the show because of the drama, the twists, and the music. The show brings relevant trends to light, such as mental illness.
Mental illness is shown prominently through Andre, the eldest son of the Lyon family and the CFO of Empire Entertainment. He is Wharton educated, power hungry, and suffers from bipolar disorder. The audience watches Andre go through the ups and downs of his illness, and the effects it has on his wife and family. He skips his medications, goes on spending sprees, has emotional breakdowns, and gets hospitalized.
Sins of the Father
The tenth episode, “Sins of the Father,” prominently showed Andre’s illness. It opened with Andre sitting with his psychologist, music therapist, wife, siblings, and mother. His psychologist tells his mother, Cookie Lyons, that her son suffers from Bipolar. Reacting badly, Cookie denies that her son has an illness.
Andre’s wife and his siblings accept the diagnosis, but his parents do not. Cookie and Luscious Lyon often ignored their eldest son’s manic and depressive behavior because they thought his erratic behavior would blow over. It wasn’t until Andre attacked Lyon during an Empire Entertainment board meeting did he get hospitalized.
Mental Illness is Not Just a White Person’s Problem
Empire tackled the mental illness stigma head on. Cookie and Luscious saw mental illness as a White person’s problem when it affects all races, creeds, class, and gender.
Photo Courtesy By: 20th Century Fox Television (http://www.fox.com/empire) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons