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PBS host Tavis Smiley is suggesting quite a criticism of Fox’s Empire. In an interview with Larry King airing Tuesday, the political commentator said the ratings mega-hit arguably only shows “the worst” in black people.

“There is a debate in the black community that hasn’t really surfaced, hasn’t really boiled to the top yet, but I hear it in barber shops and other places,” Smiley says, “that whether the problem with Empire is that it advances the worst of every pathology that black people have — crime and drug dealing and this and that and the other. A lot of people are looking for positive characters that may come out in the second season. But the first season everybody is ahhh!

King then compared the criticism to Italian American politician Mario Cuomo “hating The Godfather,” that the film was “too well done.” Smiley replies, “Exactly.”

Empire‘s first season finale recently crossed 23 million total viewers when including seven days of DVR playback, becoming TV’s highest-rated freshman drama in nearly a decade. The finale had a higher demo ranking among African American adults than this year’s Super Bowl. Fox had no comment on Smiley’s claim.

Here’s the video from King’s Hulu and Ora.TV series PoliticKing with Larry King:

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Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created this Fox drama about a kingpin of hip-hop (played by Terrence Howard) and his family, who fight him for control of the empire.
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