The show's May 28 premiere was the highest-rated series premiere in OWN history, and the series is still averaging over 1.5 million total viewers, despite the not-so-kind commentary from some critics.
OWN president Sheri Salata sings the series' praises: "Naturally, it is wonderful to have the network's first scripted series score so resoundingly. Tyler's fans and OWN viewers have responded to this guilty pleasure in record numbers, and we are happy to give them more of a good thing."
The show has been described as a primetime soap opera by critics (The Grio described it as "an orgy of 'Dynasty,' 'Savannah,' 'Dallas,' 'Knots Landing,' 'Downton Abbey,' and 'The Young and the Restless' with sprinkles of the short-lived NBC soap opera 'Generations'"), but for some reason its cast members are playing down the soap comparisons.
Actress Renee Lawless, who plays family matriarch Katheryn Cryer on the series, firmly told IGN, "We are not a soap opera."
Ditto for Jaclyn Betham, who plays her daughter, Amanda Cryer, on the show. "On a soap opera nothing really happens, the same storyline [drags] on for years," Betham said. "Five years later and you still don't know who the daddy is. But with our show, every episode is filled with something dramatic."
Actress Tika Sumpter, who plays conniving Candace Young on the series, told TV Guide, "The script, to me, is not soapy. We move way too quickly for that. The daytime soaps ponder on one storyline forever. Two weeks later, you're still at that same party."
Tyler Lepley, who plays Benny Young, told Bello he'd describe the series as "a sexy drama series that is high paced, hard hitting and full of sex, lies, deception, and life lessons." (Hmm, if those lessons include paying off a blackmailing call girl and then still sleeping with her, remortgaging your mama's house behind her back, and planting cocaine in your enemy's car only to have the wrong guy get busted, we get it.)
Yeah, we have to beg to differ. "The Haves and the Have Nots" is so a soap. It's not as glossy as today's soaps, either, and the scenes contain more chit-chatty dialogue than any defunct daytime drama we've seen. In fact, it looks (and sounds) positively retro.
Still, perhaps the cast members are shying away from the "soap" label because OWN's queen bee, Oprah Winfrey, previously said she thought soaps were a dying genre. "Believe me, if there was a dime left to be made from them on broadcast television, it would still be happening," she said when "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" were canceled by ABC. She also vowed, "I will not be taking on the responsibility of trying to revive an institution that for all intent and all purpose indicates that that time has come for it to be over."
Of course, since then, OWN has decided to air episodes of the "AMC" and "OLTL" reboots, so clearly her stance on soaps has changed.
Now, can we just call "The Haves and the Have Nots" what it is?
The first season of "The Haves and the Have Nots" will run through Tuesday, 9/3, while the new order of episodes will premiere in early 2014 on OWN.
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