Perry came through, creating "The Haves and the Have-Nots," a soapy drama about a wealthy Southern family and their hired help. It's based on his stage play of the same name. And while premiere night ratings were good (1.77 million people tuned in, the highest number ever for an OWN debut), the morning after was somewhat of a walk of shame. Critics blasted the show, and some even accused Perry of having something against black women.
The Los Angeles Times posed the question: "With all the resources available to [Oprah], all the talented people panting to work with her, this is what she has chosen to make her debut in original scripted drama? A show that makes the fictitious soap in 'Tootsie' look good?"
Then there were harsh words aimed at the show's creator: "Whatever hopes Perry had for this overwrought, derivative story line are dashed almost immediately by acting that can only be described as uniformly terrible."
Crunk Feminist Collective went a step further, accusing Perry of hating black women and gave five reasons why. The piece pegged Perry as a "cultural batterer" and accused him of throwing women of color under the bus. And then there's the petition on Change.org, which calls for Tyler Perry's ousting from OWN, pronto. The online campaign calls Perry's entertainment "hurtful to the black community. He perpetuates stereotypes and has no place on OWN."
A separate L.A. Times review described the show as a "smorgasbord of Southern stereotypes," and called it "so clumsily produced, it's difficult to imagine [it] getting through a table read on any other network."
While Variety acknowledged that "Winfrey might be a big fan of Perry's work," the entertainment-trade magazine questioned her judgment on this venture: "It's hard to believe a trashy, cut-rate serial -- with production values that make a traditional daytime soap look like 'The Avengers' -- was what she had in mind when she embarked on her own branded network, OWN." The magazine described the show's look as "almost claustrophobically cheap, not to mention poorly written and indifferently acted."
But even after all of that, the campy show (along with Perry's other OWN Show, "Love Thy Neighbor") has been praised for potentially "saving" Oprah's network.
OWN president Erik Logan told TV Guide that after Perry's ratings success, pitches for scripted programs from other producers have been coming in to the network. "The phones started ringing quick. There is a lot of interest," he said. As for critics who've blasted the show -- and Perry -- Logan added, "We honor and respect all of the voices. There are millions of people who believe Perry certainly fits within the brand."
Perry himself has been plugging "The Haves and the Have Nots" on his Facebook status, where he's thanking fans for the show's big opening numbers and petitioning people to keep watching: "It's just that these shows are so new right now that I need you to watch a few more episodes so that you will be hooked, although a lot of you have said you are hooked already," he wrote.
Meanwhile, actor John Schneider, who stars as philandering Judge Jim Cryer on the show, recently commented on the state of today's television networks. In an interview with Access Atlanta, the TV veteran said, "I cut my teeth in a three-network world when 28 million people were watching 'Dukes of Hazzard.' Now there are 400 channels and there seems to be less to watch."
Less to watch? If the critics are to be believed, he could be talking about his own show.
Watch the trailer for "The Haves and the Have Nots":
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