Empire has seen its ratings take a huge hit ever since it was revealed that Jussie Smollett allegedly faked a homophobic and racially-charged attack. The actor, who plays Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox series, told the Chicago Police that two men attacked him while he was walking home from a Subway restaurant back in January.
Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report to authorities. The Empire actor claimed at the time that two unidentified men tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him and shouted racial and homophobic slurs. It turned out that the two men were actually part-time extras who worked with Smollett on the set of Empire. Nigerian brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo reportedly admitted that Jussie Smollett hired them to stage the attack.
Just this past week, Smollett plead not guilty. He also claimed in an interview with Good Morning America back in February that he was innocent. “There has been a lot of misinformation in this case that has been presented as fact and evidence against Mr. Smollett, which is demonstrably false,” said Tina Glandian, the attorney for the actor, via CNN.
Now it looks like Empire is suffering from all of the backlash surrounding Smollett’s scandal as well. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the drama’s first episode after Smollett was charged had its second-smallest ratings ever. Empire returned this week from a three-month hiatus with just a 1.3 rating among adults in the 18-49 demographic. This is about 0.2 down from both its last episode in the fall and the season average.
Clearly, Empire fans are tuning out, although it hasn’t been specified if this is because of the show’s current storylines or because of Jussie Smollett himself. Either way, the actor has been cut from all of the show’s promos. His character Jamal has also been cut from the last two episodes of the current season. So far producers haven’t made any comments about Smollett’s future with the show although at this point it’s very unlikely that he will be returning anytime soon.
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