"The trial of Jussie Smollett, and the crime that led to it—whether that crime was an attack on him, as he says, or a hoax he ginned up for media attention, as prosecutors are saying–feels an awful lot like an episode of Empire, from what turned out to be his last season on the show," says Ernest Owens. "In that season, the character he played, Jamal Lyon, was being betrayed by a con artist who was supposed to be loving him but was betraying him behind closed doors. Lyon’s using lots of drugs while also going through rehab and feeling washed up and, overall, seems an awful lot like the actor who was playing him from what has come out at the trial and over the three years since Smollett first reported his attack. The defense wants the jurors to see Jussie Smollett—a successful actor from a wealthy family—as a dumb, naive, and lovestruck kid (he was in his mid-30s) who fell into a bad trap set by wicked men set on evil. And the prosecution wants jurors to see Jussie Smollett as a mastermind who plotted his own hoax for celebrity and attention. Both seem absurd to me, but on some level, the jurors will have to decide which picture seems closer to the truth."