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Melodramatic and over the top in a delicious, soapy kind of way, Tyler Perry’s The Haves And The Have Nots exists right smack dab in the middle of the title director’s wheelhouse. Between the large interconnecting cast of characters spanning multiple socioeconomic levels to the buried secrets hidden beneath a mountain of rocks, it is the most Tyler Perry-ish thing on television.
As a general rule, Perry tends to be at his best when he’s working with dramatic and scandalous material. He’s particularly good at spinning a morally corrupt and shocking web that slowly ensnares a large cast over the course of its runtime, and here, he’s given himself the ability to do so. By the end of the first episode, “The Big Surprise”, the audience is given reasons to distrust damn near every character on the show, which makes for a combination fun and eye roll-inducing watch along the lines of Revenge.
At its core, the show follows two families that are a whole lot more interconnected than they realize. One of the clans is headed by patriarch Jim Cryer (John Schneider). He’s a powerful judge with a penchant for prostitutes. His son is in rehab. His daughter cuts herself, and his wife is distant. The other clan is headed by Hanna Young (Crystal Fox). She’s the Cryer’s housekeeper and unbeknownst to her employees when the action first begins, Jim’s new favorite prostitute (Tika Sumpter) is actually her daughter.
That tangled web actually spins a whole lot further with bitchy best friends, rehab counselors and tow truck-driving brothers by the end of the first episode. Altogether, it’s pretty damn ridiculous, and with its Savannah, Georgia setting, the show feels like a bit of a throwback. It’s not nearly as quickly paced or reliant on technology as most modern day nighttime soap operas. From a technical standpoint, The Haves And The Have Nots is really pretty mediocre. The acting is, on the whole, pretty bland. There’s nothing particularly interesting about the way the action is put together or how Perry chooses to pace the show out. All of it has been done a countless number of times, but that doesn’t mean there’s not value here.
If a viewer is willing to just go with it, there is plenty of fun to be had with The Haves And The Have Nots. The show completely realizes its melodramatic nature, and it has fun with it. In fact, its primary goal seems to be to take the plot in different directions and keep the audience on edge. That might not be a recipe to achieve Six Feet Under level greatness, but hey, Desperate Housewives was pretty damn fun for awhile too.
Tyler Perry's The Haves And The Have Nots airs on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/ PST on OWN.