Tyler Perry: 'The Haves and the Have Nots,' Faces Criticism Despite Record Views [Take Poll]

By Anna Dinger | Jun 17, 2013 01:25 PM EDT
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Tyler Perry's 'The Haves and the Have Nots'
(Photo : Tyler Perry Website)

Tyler Perry's new soap opera on OWN, 'The Haves and the Have Nots,' has been facing some criticism, despite record views, due to the fact that it seems to deviate from many of the the Christian themed films that he has produced in the past.

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'The Haves and the Have Nots' marks Perry's first-ever drama series. It is loosely based on his play by the same name and is centered around a dysfunctional, wealthy white family from Savannah, Georgia, the Cryer family. The family, made up of mother and father, Katheryn and Jim (Renee Lawless and John Schneider), and their two children Amanda and Wyatt (Jaclyn Betham and Aaron O'Connell), represent 'the Haves.' Meanwhile, 'the Have Nots' are headed by black servants, Celine and Hanna (Eva Tamargo and Crystal Fox). Another main character is Candace (Tika Sumpter), a young black hooker that Jim had ordered, who also turns out to be Amanda's best friend and law school tutor, as well as, secretly, the daughter of Hanna.

The Cryer family is extremely dysfunctional, with a controlling mother, a cheating husband, a self-destructive daughter and a drug addict son. The plot lines of the show are filled with themes of sex, betrayal and buried secrets, not entirely what you'd expect from Christian film-writer, Perry. He explained the storyline in an interview with Oprah saying, "Everything that I write about, I write from my own experiences. I was young once. I've seen all of this," according to the Huffington Post. He explained that he has been a 'have' as well as a 'have-not,' however, he likes being a 'have' a little better.

The new television series received record ratings among viewers, however, it also received a great deal of opposition from critics, the Los Angeles Times reports. Brian Lowry of 'Variety,' referred to the show as, "claustrophobically cheap, not to mention poorly written and indifferently acted." Meanwhile, Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times responded even more harshly saying it was, "so awful that the awfulness appears intentional. Except that might make it interesting, and it just isn't."

Some critics have gone so far as to suggest that Perry seemingly exudes hatred toward black women in the new television series. Racialicious.com argues that the main black female roles are strongly representative of harsh racial stereotypes the 'Mammy' (Hanna), the 'Jezebel' (Celine), and the 'Sapphire' (Candace). Although some of the that are represented are not innately negative, Racialicious argues that the images are controlling and stereotypically pointed, which gives them a negative connotation. Meanwhile, on the flip side of the coin, black men in the series tend to be represented in a very positive light with respectable jobs and high ambitions.  Newsone.com seems to agree with this point, stating that Perry's "depictions of Black women on television and in film are consistently, intensely polarizing and problematic. They are either too weak or too strong; cartoonishly naive or abrasively cynical and bitter. They have survived abuse at the hands of devastatingly handsome Black men - who are portrayed as jealous, vengeful, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent gods."

Perry has also released a new comedy television series on OWN entitled, 'Love They Neighbor.'



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