Empire now has some off-screen drama to match its onscreen variety. The first two episodes of the show's second season are at issue in a new class-action lawsuit that alleges real prisoners were mistreated so that the show could play make-believe.
The suit, which Deadline posted in its entirety here, is brought by the guardians of two former residents of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, where Empire filmed its Lucious-in-prison plot. It alleges that during the filming, which took place over three separate multi-day periods in summer 2015, the inmates at the facility were on lockdown and restricted to their pods. Their normal classes, recreation, and access to the chapel and library were restricted—as were, the suit claims, their family visits.
Interestingly, the suit also says that additional filming days were added because the show originally portrayed Chris Rock's character as a cannibal, but the network said no and demanded re-shoots.
The suit maintains that the lockdown during filming was "psychologically damaging" to the inmates, and "interrupted and degraded" their rehabilitation. It is taking aim at the ad revenue Fox got for the episodes ($750K per commercial for one episode, and $600K per spot for another, according to the suit), as well as damages.
Complex reached out to the law firm representing the plaintiffs, but they did not immediately respond.