The first collaboration between Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry is off to a good news/bad news start. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that OWN’s first scripted drama series, Perry’s "The Haves and the Have Nots," premiered to record ratings while drawing bad reviews from a number of critics.
The fallout from the series included a suggestion by one critic that Winfrey “has apparently lost her mind.”
The show debuted Tuesday with two back-to-back episodes, with OWN calling it the network’s highest-rated premiere ever. The first episode delivered 1.77 million total viewers, while the second episode grew to 1.8 million viewers. For those two airings, the numbers in women 25-54 were 1.57 million and 1.67 million, respectively.
But the reviews were rough. OWN didn’t allow critics to view the show before its airing, which follows Perry’s policy of not allowing his movies to be pre-screened for reviewers.
The show even spurred a petition on Change.org, which calls for Winfrey to remove the show from the lineup because it claims Perry "perpetuates stereotypes" about the black community, notes TheWrap.
Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times called the show "so awful that the awfulness appears intentional. Except that might make it interesting, and it just isn’t." Variety’s Brian Lowry described it as "claustrophobically cheap, not to mention poorly written and indifferently acted." He added that it has the potential to damage Winfrey’s legacy of self-empowerment, the story notes.
McNamara, who was named last month as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, also commented on the channel’s refusal to screen the show for critics, writing: "One can only assume OWN hoped to prevent us from rising en masse to prevent ‘The Have and the Have Nots" from ever airing before staging intervention with Winfrey, who has apparently lost her mind."