The jury is still out for me on hit maker Tyler Perry’s new television series, “For Better or Worse”. If you remember, Angela and Marcus, played by Tasha Smith and Michael Jai White, were the fighting, STD sharing couple in the hit movies, “Why Did I Get Married”, 1 and 2.
In this new series they reprise their roles with a new cast of supporting characters. Angela is still a beauty shop owner with plans to expand. Marcus, you’ll remember, had gotten a tv deal to do sportscasting in the second “Married”. They are doing quite well in life and in marriage as illustrated by the shot of an upscale Atlanta home that opens the show.
I love Tyler in live theatre productions and in movie efforts. However, I’m not a fan of his on the small screen. “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns” are just too much for the tv. Both shows have too many characters with too many problems and too much to say for just one half hour.
That is exactly what I fear this new show will do. Have a lot to say in a small amount of time and too many characters to try to lock in on and care about. That format worked for “Why Did I Get Married” because a movie can present an ensemble and have a lot of time to share and solve everybody’s problem. Alas, I fear that “For Better or Worse” can’t make us care in just 30 minutes.
The first episode opened with an outside shot of the fabulous single family home that Marcus and Angela have built together over time. Then it went right into the kitchen where Marcus’s daughter with ex-wife Keisha, and Marcus and Angela’s son MJ were arguing over whether Angela is a “ho” (whore). This was the prelude to the fight that would transpire between Angela and Keisha about halfway through the first episode.
Tyler presented two episodes together which was a smart way to introduce the characters and draw the audience in. However, I found I couldn’t care about any of this. I knew too little about the characters. Why did Marcus leave Keisha and her baby? Why doesn’t he leave mean-ass Angela? Why does his best friend, Richard, hurt and hate him almost as viciously as Keisha and Angela hurt each other? Is it natural for men to be this petty in public? Why would Marcus and Joseph bring that kind of hater into the new company Marcus is starting?
I was more attached to Leslie, Angela’s good friend, and her quest to marry Joseph, Marcus’s co-anchor at C-Sports Now. Leslie and Joseph have been living together for three years and she’s ready to get married. Leslie owns her home, owns the title to a Bently, and has millions in the bank. Is this her money or does she make a brother sign over gifts and property for her future security? This woman is interesting and someone I’d like to spend time studying.
The drama between Angela and Keisha has been done. Lisa Raye and Elise Neal did it in “All of Us”. It’s time for sophisticated dramedy (Comedy/drama). Lisa Raye’s last project, “Single Ladies” did it awesomely well, and has become the new standard for professional, educated, mature women of color who are looking for television that resonates with them. “Single Ladies” doesn’t have married characters, but married women can watch it for sundry and varied reasons. Besides, it’s a quality, one hour production and the stories are layered and mature.
Tyler Perry is talented, creative, and smart. He’s catering to a core audience that has supported him over the years and will continue to support him in the lean times. I’m not going to count this show out, but It’s just not for me as it is.