Television

The Haves and the Have Nots’ Post-Accident Benny

Tyler Lepley

(Photo Credit: Kontrol Magazine)

Benjamin “Benny” Young (Tyler Lepley) is emerging as a more interesting and complex character since the accident he was involved in that landed him in the hospital.  Fans of Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots are witnessing a Benny who seems to have greater zeal than he had before the accident.  When he speaks now, he does not have any reservations.  Before the accident, Benny wouldn’t use profanity around Hannah Young (Crystal R. Fox), his mother, but now he says exactly what he wants to say—with little to no regret.  Hannah is even surprised by how blunt Benny is now. She frequently has to look at him and tell him that he needs to calm down.  It will be interesting to see if we’re about to see the full manifestation of his spunk, a spunk that shares deep affinities to Candace Young’s (Tika Sumpter), his sister.

Benny, the Uniter

Benny appears to be making a stronger effort to bring Candace and Hannah closer together.  One of his chief failures (thus far) in attempting to eviscerate the barriers that exist between Candace and Hannah is the omission of a challenge for Hannah to employ the powerful faith she has in God to help her to have a true willingness to close the gulf between her and her daughter.  Benny has heard his mother talk about God all of his life, and he seems to have grown a little tired of hearing her speak about God, especially when they continue to experience the struggle of surviving with very limited financial resources.

Benny’s Potential Danger

Although Benny’s new passion is refreshing, he has to be careful about seeking revenge on Quincy (Medina Islam), Candace’s baby daddy.  From what we know right now, it appears that Quincy murdered his baby.  If Quincy will murder a baby, then you know he doesn’t mind killing Benny. Benny, therefore, shouldn’t allow his anger to metastasize into wrath.  It’s clear that Quincy doesn’t mind going to prison, and Benny shouldn’t let him lead him on a path that leads to prison, the hospital or the grave.  Hopefully, Candace and Hannah will be able to communicate to him the importance of remaining calm and logical.  While it may seem to be the right thing to go after Quincy for murdering Candace’s baby (and for whatever he did to her before he went to prison), Benny is a good man and has much more to lose than Quincy does.  If Benny elects to take the law into his own hands, he could do more harm than good.

Conclusion

On July 22, 2014, fans of the show will have an opportunity to see if Benny will make tragic mistakes. Unchecked rage often leads to destruction.  Benny has to understand that Quincy is Satan in the flesh, and all Quincy comes to do is steal, kill and destroy.  Will Benny pass this test of his faith?  We learn the answer to this question on the next episode of Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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The Haves and the Have Nots Should Be Longer

Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots

(Photo Credit: Oprah)

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

 

A Positive Representation of Black Male Intellect in The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show

A good education can take you much farther than dribbling a basketball. (Photo Credit: imdb.com)

The Cosby Show offers one of the most powerful and important representations of Black male intellect in the history of American television.  One of the main characters on the show is Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable (Bill Cosby), an obstetrician and son of a leading jazz trombonist.  Cliff is married to Clair Huxtable (Phylicia Rashād), a smart and professional attorney.  Clair and Cliff have five children.  The upper-middle class Huxtable family lives in a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights, New York.  Although The Cosby Show has received some negative critiques for focusing on highly educated and successful Blacks, I find the show to provide a needed alternative to the dominant narrative about Black male intellect: the media and other sources often present Black males as being unintelligent and criminals, but Cliff Huxtable represents respectability and brilliance.  His brilliance isn’t wrapped in the traditional “nerd” image either.  (Nothing’s wrong with the traditional “nerd” image, but it’s refreshing to see a representation of intellectual giftedness that doesn’t simply rely on an overrepresented image of what an educated or intellectual man looks like.)  It’s essential to look at the great representation of Black male intellect Cliff Huxtable offers.

Although some don’t like Cliff Huxtable’s positive representation of Black male intellect to be highlighted, a critical observer of The Cosby Show cannot help but to see it.  Cliff is a Black man who is a medical doctor.  It takes a significant amount of knowledge and intellectual prowess to become a medical doctor.  His education enables him to enjoy the life afforded to an upper-middle class man living in America. He doesn’t, however, display his wealth in an ostentatious manner.  Instead, Cliff elects to invest his money in building a strong family centered on the importance of a quality education and essential moral values.

The cast of The Cosby Show in 1989

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Even though Cliff is known more for his comedic ingenuity, the substantial value he places on education isn’t about fun and games at all.  He has fun with all of his children but they know he doesn’t mind disciplining them about a lack of commitment to their academic studies.  Theodore “Theo” Huxtable (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), Cliff’s only son, experiences the most difficult academic challenges, stemming primarily from his frequent lack of focus and motivation to excel academically.  Theo constantly has his mind fixed on beautiful young girls, which, of course, is typical of a young American boy.  Cliff refuses to allow Theo to sacrifice his education for phenomena less vital than a quality education.

Dr. Huxtable presents an interesting fusion of intellectual, moral and comedic excellence.  When Black men are looking for a positive role model, they can follow the example proffered by Cliff.  Too many people aren’t able to see the value of Cliff’s example for Black men because they’re too concentrated on his economic standing.  Black men who don’t have anywhere close to the amount of money Dr. Huxtable has can still learn the essential values of a quality education and active and positive parental involvement from him. 

Imagine if more Black men were to embrace Cliff’s commitment to education and active and positive parental involvement.  How much better would our young Black males be today and how much stronger would Black families be?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Stale Steffy, Liam, and Hope Drama on The Bold and the Beautiful

The Bold and the Beautiful(Photo Credit: Facebook)

It’s time for the writers and producers of The Bold & the Beautiful to become more imaginative.  The drama between Steffy, Liam, and Hope has lasted far too long.  Many of the show’s most loyal fans are exhausted with the never-ending vacillating of Liam: one moment he cannot live without Hope and the next moment he cannot live without Steffy.  The show is suffering mightily from not having enough characters.  Even though there are efforts to bring a few additional characters on the show, a few additional characters will not be enough.  The writers and producers need to expand the number of characters to match the number The Young & the Restless has.  By increasing the number of characters the show has, this will make it easier for the writers and producers to not have Brooke in love with her brother-in-law Dollar Bill Spencer.

The Bold & the Beautiful is quickly becoming one of the most boring soap operas, which is quite unfortunate, considering it has been one of the most interesting for a long time.  The writers and producers shouldn’t assume they will have the same large viewership they have enjoyed over the years.  Postmodern audiences can be fickle.  You need to do something fast to keep the superior ratings you’ve had over the years.

A serious effort needs to be made to bring Ridge back.  The show’s loyal fans have grown accustomed to seeing him and consider him to be one character who should remain permanently.  Brooke and Ridge should be reunited.  Their relationship never lacked excitement, while still offering a powerful example of how true love can help a couple to overcome almost anything.

Moreover, giving Oliver a more important role on the show would greatly ameliorate it.  Let Oliver and Hope form a loving and happy relationship that inevitably leads to a remarkable marriage.  Oliver can certainly be more than just a photographer and minor character.  When you think about it, Hope and Oliver are really an apt fit: they both are boring and lack personality.

I think it was a poor decision to let Steffy’s baby die and allow Brooke’s baby to live.  What sense does that make?  The writers and producers seem to show favoritism toward the Logans.  The Logans always appear to get just what they want in the end.

Make an effort to turn Dollar Bill Spencer into the next Stefano DiMera.  This will help to make the show exciting to watch again.  Bill has proved to be one of the most interesting characters on the show, even during this current period of decline the show is experiencing due to the trite storyline between Steffy, Liam, and Hope.  Allow Taylor and Eric to share authentic love.  It’s time for the hackneyed feud between Brooke and Taylor to retire.

Bring more Black characters to the show and give them vital roles.  This will afford the show an opportunity to attract new viewers and give it essential revitalization.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

An Early Review of The Oprah Winfrey Network

First, I have to say that I’m tremendously proud of Oprah Winfrey for having the courage to start her own network because she could have just went off the scene and basked in her great success. I do like the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) but I would like to see some significant improvements with the programming on the network. Although Gayle King is a member of this network, I want to see more of a Black presence on the network. As an African-American woman with over $2 billion, Oprah Winfrey has the opportunity to bring a greater Black presence into the homes of members of the dominant culture and non-members of the dominant culture. Right now, however, she has not capitalized on an opportunity to do this. Oprah also needs to make it much more affordable for more people, especially low-income people, to be able to purchase OWN.

Right now, the network looks too much like the Style and Food Network channels. I would expect Oprah to be much more creative than appearing nothing more than a mere copy or extension of the Style and Food Network channels. I understand that food and the type of programming on the Style channel are top interests of Oprah, but I would have expected her to give us more of the creativity that has made her other ventures such a success.

I’m a big fan of Oprah and not one of these people who just likes to negatively criticize people for no reason at all. This piece simply reflects my honest early reaction to OWN. No matter what Oprah does with OWN, I’m going to continue to love her and support her. I just want her to make significant improvements to her network. I know that her network is in its infancy and this is why I’m going to continue to follow her network to see how it evolves.

I very much encourage you to check out Oprah’s new network. For those who have had an opportunity to watch OWN, I’m interested in your early thoughts about it.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison