Tyler Perry has just completed a successful first season of his new hit drama, The Haves and the Have Nots (2013), on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Although it’s an hour long show on Tuesday nights, it’s really only a 30 – 35 minute program when one factors in the numerous commercials. With so many interesting dynamics and complexities, the show needs to be two hours long or air twice a week for one hour each of those days. Perry has indicated that in the second season of the show he will be providing viewers with more background information about the characters that will help viewers to understand how they evolved into the characters we see today. Viewers can certainly benefit from deeper knowledge about the backgrounds of all his characters, and I believe that he will execute the revealing of their backgrounds in interesting ways.
For those who assert that Perry’s works lack sophistication and complexity, I would love to engage in a serious discourse with them about these unfair critiques when it comes to The Haves and the Have Nots. Of course, many people, especially many of his African-American critics, simply will not like anything he does because of his unwillingness to cater to their narrow visions of who he should be as an actor, director, writer, producer and man.
The show offers a powerful reaffirmation: all relationships and families have problems, no matter how much money they have and regardless of their race and ethnicity. At the core of the problems that exists between the characters in the work is a failure to be sincere. In some degree, all of the characters engender vexing quandaries for themselves and others by lacking the courage to deal frankly with their internal and external challenges. We will never solve our problems by running away from them. Our problems are conquered when we muster the courage to address them candidly and thoroughly.
More background information about all of the characters will enable fans of the show to increase their investment in their favorite characters, and viewers will be able to gain a greater appreciation for all of their characters, even if they do not personally like some of the characters. I am a huge fan of the show and was eager each week to watch it. I do, however, come away from each episode feeling like something is missing, something that’s essential. This feeling of something essential being absent is mostly not a positive thing. The show needs to benefit from an additional hour each week to take it to the next level of greatness.
In order for all artists to continue to advance, it’s necessary for them to involve themselves in reflective thought. They must consider ways to ameliorate their works to keep them fresh, relevant and interesting. Perry is not exempt from this need to engage in critical reflection about The Have and the Have Nots. Whatever he has to do to extend the time of his episodes should be done.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison