Uproxx: No one can deny how successful Fox’s Empire has become. The show’s phenomenal ratings seem to grow exponentially with each new episode, and several pertinent reasons — including a lack of competition and an innovative soundtrack — have been cited. Star Terrence Howard thinks the show’s willingness to push the envelope is another factor, and he emphasized his belief in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
Howard admits he’s always striving for the show to remain as realistic as possible. “If we start getting silly, if we start playing to people’s fancies, then we don’t deserve to be where we are,” says Howard of the show’s success. “It’s a big pressure because I want to be a truth-sayer. I want to raise the bar. I want to get rid of this f—ed up word called PC. I think it’s a gate for bigotry because as long as you’re politically correct you can say anything you want but feel some way different.”
Realism is key to the show’s success, according to Howard. Yet the actor suggests “PC” — or political correctness — is getting in the way of Empire and other television shows trying to tell riveting stories. (He does, after all, play a bigoted father to a homosexual son in the series.) With this in mind, Howard wants to push the limits even further:
“I’m mad that we don’t say n— in the show,” he admits. “Why is TV showing something different from the reality of the world? Why is there a thing called censorship that stop people from hearing everyday talk? We use n— every day. It’s become part of a conversation — why aren’t we using it in the show?”
For a quick historical review of television censorship, let’s revisit George Carlin’s classic “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” bit. It doesn’t cover Howard’s word of choice, but it should give you a sense of what he’s talking about.