Empire was forced to leave its fans sorta high and dry at the end of Season 6, with our growing health crisis leading to the cast and crew having to force a series finale onto the air two whole episodes earlier than previously planned. While the result left a lot to be desired for viewers, as well as those behind the show, spirits picked up quite a bit when word came down in summer 2020 that the long-hoped for spinoff focusing on Taraji P. Henson's bold, say-anything-that's-on-her-mind Cookie Lyon had finally started development. And, Henson just shared an update on the series for those looking to catch up with Cookie soon.
The music-focused drama Empire made a massive splash when it debuted on Fox in January 2015, and a large part of the appeal for many people was Taraji P. Henson and her work as the take no bullshit mother / mogul, Cookie. It had always made sense, with the popularity of the character, to do something more with her, and while plans for a prequel spinoff focused on a younger version of the character were eventually abandoned, when Empire was drawing to a close it was decided that Henson could simply take Cookie elsewhere to lead her own show.
While talking with Entertainment Tonight as she prepares to host the BET Awards this weekend, Taraji P. Henson was asked if work on the spinoff was still going full steam ahead, and she replied:
No, I think we're gonna put it to rest for a sec. For me, the script has to be right. It has to be worthy of the audience. We have to give the audience something incredible, and sometimes, I think you need time, time away. I think absence makes the heart grow fonder.
OK, OK! I know that this is a complete bummer for all of the Cookie fans out there, but let's really look at what Taraji P. Henson said before getting too upset, because she made two very important points about the spinoff. First of all, she said she wants the script to be right before they bring anything to TV, and isn't that something that we all want?
As revealed last summer, the Cookie-centered spinoff was set to follow the funny, determined, and extremely well-dressed woman as she moved to Los Angeles, and might have also featured some of her other family members. The bones of that idea sound great, but if Henson and / or the other creatives behind the proposed show felt the details of the script weren't completely working out, it's better to hold off until, as Henson put it, it's "worthy of the audience."
Secondly, Taraji P. Henson isn't the only person attached to the Cookie spinoff who had ties with Empire, as series co-creator Danny Strong, and Empire veterans Stacy A. Littlejohn and Yolanda Lawrence were all set to act as co-showrunners and writers. Her point about needing "time away" could be implying that they might still be too close to what Empire was to fully envision Cookie's new world, along with her thinking that the viewers could also stand to spend more time without the character before being thrust back into her sure-to-be-wild new life.
Basically, while it sucks that L.A. Cookie (or whatever the series might have been called) is on hold for now, at least Taraji P. Henson and co. have very good reasons for taking a step back.
Hopefully, it won't be too long until we hear a more positive update on Taraji P. Henson's Cookie spinoff, but until then, see what you can watch on the small screen in the form of 2021 summer TV shows!