Last night saw the return Empire for it’s second season, and boy did we have mixed feelings about it all.
The show has always had gay edge, with showrunner Ilene Chaiken (creator of The L Word) making sure that queer women got their due.
And now we have Marisa Tomei playing Mimi Whiteman in the mix – a powerful woman whose money is their to help the family out of a jam.
Mimi’s a lesbian, and her sexuality is a central plot point, since Cookie seems to be courting her business entirely through flirtation.
The ploy is ridiculous. It shouldn’t take any canoodling to see that the record label is a good investment.
What’s more, it’s disappointing for a show as sensitive and dynamic about queerness as Empire has been with Jamal to lean on lusty lesbian stereotypes.
Tomei has signed up for a multi-episode arc so hopefully this character will be defined a bit more.
But besides Tomei, we’ll also be meeting Freda (played by newcomer Bre-Z ), a young lesbian rapper who intrigues Luscious.
Bre-Z recently told Okayplayer about her role:
Between (Jamal Lyon & Freda Gatz’s character), their sexuality is not who they are. And I feel like that goes for anybody. None of your sexual likenesses are displayed in public view whether you’re with a man or a woman or the same sex. What you do in your bedroom is your business. There’s no need to make a spectacle of it, but you do have to acknowledge that it exists and treat people accordingly, and not be hateful and not a bully or taunt people because they may not walk in the same shoes as you do.”
Bre-Z’s first track for Empire is out now, called “Same Song,” which she describes as “a song about that struggle of being a young black girl… trying to pursue our dreams. All of us tend to sing the same old song. Some people don’t see no way out of that, but you got to make a way. It’s a little piece of me. I love it!”
Bisexual pop star Tiana (Serayah McNeill) and queer DJ Chicken (AzMarie Livingston) are also back this season, and Serayah teased that her character, who is now a series regular, will show more of herself, although no word on if her girlfriend will make a reappearance.
Seryah told CY Interview
We’ve seen Tiana for the crazy things she’s done. But this season I think there’s gonna be a lot more in-depth with Tiana and her feelings and maybe some more of where she comes from and just seeing her more I think will give people more of an insight on my character.”
We will wait to see how these other stories play out.