Oprah partners with Tyler Perry to create content for OWN … um, WTH?


Have you heard the news? Oprah is teaming up with Madea himself to create scripted fare for the struggling OWN. In this week’s ‘Clacking in Color,’ the sensational column spotlighting minorities in Hollywood, writer Jaylen Christie wonders: what the hell?


Growing up with aspirations of being a journalist, I was often told to look at Oprah Winfrey as the quintessential role model. How could I not? That woman runs the world. Needless to say, she’s definitely one of my idols, and my adoration of her only intensified when she launched her very own network at the start of 2011. Now, anyone who’s been keeping up with entertainment news knows that, well, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) hasn’t exactly been an overnight success. Despite it premiering in 80 million homes, it’s still struggling a bit. However, it seems that Winfrey is trying to fix that. According to the New York Times, the multi-hyphenate is teaming up with another multi-hyphenate to bring success to her shaky network — Tyler Perry.

With that being said, I have only one thing to say: Are you kidding me?!

Seriously, Oprah! What gives? It’s common knowledge that I’m not the biggest fan of Tyler Perry. Anyone who’s been keeping up with Clacking in Color knows that. I’ve never had the opportunity to write about Perry, but now that I do, let me elaborate. I believe Perry has done wonderful things for African-American actors and actresses in regards to employment. I certainly can’t take that away from him. However, I just feel as though if you’ve seen one Tyler Perry project then you’ve seem them all. Don’t get me wrong. There are some stand-outs. The Family That Preys is an awesome movie. Nevertheless, Madea Goes to Jail, Madea’s Big Happy Family and Madea’s Witness Protection leave a lot to be desired. Perry’s works are predictable and follow the same bland formula. I also feel as though some of his recent works haven’t been big on quality. It’s kind of like he’s rushing. Yes, Madea can be funny, but it’s ignorant at best.

I just feel as though if you’ve seen one Tyler Perry project then you’ve seem them all.

To that end, I’ve always been curious as to why Winfrey and Perry are friends. I don’t mean that in a negative way. I’m just curious. Winfrey has stated countless times that she detests rap music because of what it promotes. She even gave rapper Ludacris something of a cold shoulder when he appeared on her talk show several years ago with his Crash costars. Yup. She sure did. Pardon my slang, but Oprah don’t play that. So, why is she playing with Perry?

Perchance it’s because Perry does, in fact, have a built-in audience. His sitcoms on TBS — Meet the Browns and For Better or Worse — may feature stereotypical situations and pigeonholed characters, but people are watching. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Perry’s For Better or Worse drew in 3.4 million viewers for its premiere. That’s pretty solid for cable. Maybe he can do the same thing for OWN. Winfrey’s network frequently draws in less than a million viewers, and reports on USA Today indicated that several OWN staff members were laid off earlier this year. Oh, dear. Has Winfrey become desperate?

Has Winfrey become desperate? I’d like to think she hasn’t. Heck, she’s Oprah!

I’d like to think she hasn’t. Heck, she’s Oprah! I think that Perry knows better when it comes to creating suitable content for Winfrey. Set to debut in mid-2013, this will be OWN’s first scripted fare. I’m sure Perry will dial back on the outrageous meter. I won’t lie. I’m rather intrigued by this new development. If they play their cards right then this could be something awesome. I certainly believe that it will give OWN some much needed viewers. Perchance I’ll be one of them. If, for whatever reason, this doesn’t succeed, then I think I have a new title for the next Tyler Perry film …

Madea Gets Fired.

Photo Credit: Harpo Studios

20 Comments on “Oprah partners with Tyler Perry to create content for OWN … um, WTH?

  1. Tyler Perry’s audience is very loyal to him.If he produces something most of them will watch it. Money makes money and OWN isnt making enough, so the partnering is pretty logical to me. Although, I do not like all of Perry’s films he continues to give his audience what they want and expect, that’s his hustle. And being a black actress myself there aren’t many roles written for us so I really commend him on all of his productions and giving other artist work.

    • Well, I definitely see where you are coming from, Stacey. Like I mentioned, Perry does provide a significant amount of roles for Black artists. I think it’s wonderful. Perry has a loyal audience. Oprah isn’t stupid. She plans on capitalizing on that. I just hope Perry steps his game up. That’s all.

  2. I feel Oprah has become desperate to gain the black audience. Her ratings were not high until she started featuring actors and artist such as, Jennifer Hudson , Usher, and even Rihanna on her Next Chapter show. Seriously , everybody knows what Rihanna does and stands for. We all know Oprah doesn’t stand for any of it. How can shun down a rapper like Ludacris (Who does positive things in his community” Luda Weekend”) But plasters a Usher (who cheated on his wife with her bridesmaid) all over your Network. Oprah is bout business, shes making a business move. So what if she using Tyler Perry lawd knows he needs it

  3. I never knew Oprah’s network was struggling until I saw it in the news. I’ve been an avid fan since OWN’s inception and I love how it continues to get better. I’m sure that Oprah has used her years of tv wisdom in this new joint venture with Tyler Perry. Both Perry and Winfrey have been around for a while and know what it takes to build a loyal fan base. Oprah’s network is inspirational, and Tyler Perry has been nothing short of inspirational to me as well. Even in the Madea character, there is always a message of hope. I like this team! Can’t wait…Oprah, Iyanla, and now Tyler Perry.

  4. I’m not a fan of Tyler Perry; but, I’ll admit that he’s a smart man. On a friend level,I can understand why Oprah would relate to his intelligence and business acumen.

    The OWN’s problem is that it isn’t easily available. Oprah’s accessibility allowed people to relate to her. They could turn on ABC and watch her for free or go to the supermarket and pay $3 for her magazine. But, OWN requires people to pay $24-60/mo for a cable subscription to watch ONE network which probably only has ONE show they’re interested in. People might like Oprah, but in this economy, they like their pocketbooks more.

    Tapping into Tyler Perry’s market makes sense. Perry always provides fresh energy and multiple ideas, which OWN desperately needs. In theory, OWN’s a good idea, but considering Lifetime struggled for so long and Oxygen was sold, OWN’s difficulty isn’t new. Perry might give OWN a boost, but considering cost and its history, but it might not last. But, fingers crossed that it does …

    • An, you are absolutely right. Business is business, and Oprah is about that. OWN does need to be reinvigorated. The good news is that ratings are slowly improving. I reckon Perry will give OWN a boost, but I think it’s going to take a lot more than that to get some serious viewers for OWN. I do admire Oprah’s tenacity though. That’s a hard working woman!

  5. I think people are way to hard on Oprah. Like she said after she decided to launch the network. “I don’t have pressure to make it as big as my show.” She’s human, give her some props although her image drastically declined in my book after she went to the lowest of the low….I mean the bottom of the sea and interview that KK girl. I can’t bare to spell it out. Yeah, she’s desperate but then again I’m sure she wants rankings for her network.

    As far as Tyler Perry. Blah. But to each its own, I’m all about positive deceptions of Black people. Tyler is clearly not. Above all I help it works out for my girl Oprah.

  6. This is a logical move, anyone w/ eyes can see that. But these two are more alike than we care to admit. Oprah is all about the people, and so is Perry. Both stand for the same things and both ethincally come from a similar background. Given the financial situation her network is in, “she better do something”!

    • Truer words have never been spoken, Norman. Thanks for reading!

  7. The weird thing about Perry’s movies is that some of them have really, really dramatic scenes in them with intense characters focusing on genuine issues facing many Black Americans… and then Medea shows up. And I don’t understand it.

    Also, why was Tyler Perry in the Star Trek movie? Something else I don’t understand.

    • Personally, I prefer the movies that don’t feature Madea. The Family That Preys had Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates. It was pretty solid. When written correctly, Perry can honestly come up with some pretty captivating stuff. In regards to Star Trek, JJ Abrams asked him to be a part of the film. It was a small role, but I did like that Perry was asked to make a cameo. It was nice to see him in a movie other than his own.

  8. From what I understand, Perry is actually one of Oprah’s super-close friends. In fact, he was responsible for two incredibly powerful episodes of Oprah. One in which he talked about his sexual abuse, https://youtu.be/T-uJM3z3lwU and one about male sexual abuse survivors that was inspired by his appearance. https://youtu.be/eLsNqTLapys.

    So given their friendship and history of being on her show, it makes sense to me.

  9. To answer Katie’s question, Tyler Perry was in “Star Trek” ’cause JJ Abrams asked him. Most Trek fans were surprised by the choice but Perry said at the time that after having talked with JJ, he felt a kinship due to them both having worked their own production companies in TV and Film. After the movie was released it was noted that Perry’s role was so small that maybe Madea as Commandant of Star Fleet Academy would have been more of an eyeopener.

    Tyler Perry is talented. One can only hope that this new alliance with The Oprah (blessed be) will raise his game to do something amazing. And get OWN some ratings to help keep “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” on.

    • Oh, there’s no doubting Perry’s talent, Otto. I don’t hate him. However, you have to admit that if you’ve seen one Tyler Perry film then you’ve seen them all. I need him to step his game up … and fast! I like his films without Madea. Good Deeds was nice, a bit over dramatic, but nice nonetheless. My favorites are The Family That Preys and Why Did I Get Married?

  10. Man, these comments are really spot on. After hearing the news, I shouted, “NOOOOOOOOOO,” but now that the news has sunk in a little, I can hoenstly say that I take the information with mixed feelings just as I take Perry’s movies. This is bittersweet just like Perry’s movies. Great that he is contributing material for the black audience and black actors and actresses. Sad that it’s the same formula everytime which is over-the-top soap opera drama, drama, drama and then “mammie” character Madea and then more drama that leads to a beautiful wedding. But I can’t say that Tyler doesn’t give us a different role for Blacks at times–manyo f the characters in his movies are successful but encounter tough times.

    Yes, his shows are crap. Its just bad anyway you cut it. Poor dialogue, poor plots. Its just poor and sadly, I don’t think that will improve. Why? Well, he has Meet The Browns, House of Payne, For Better or Worse and he’s developing TWO MORE shows. Please. Perry is just loving the crap factory, huh? And apprenty the public is too. I think for him to better his sitcom material, he needs to slow down and focus. He is indeed smart so he knows these shows are crap, but he also knows that many people will still watch and he will still get money.

    OWNs rating are in the dumps, but I recently read that they are improving little by little and this strictly a business move–a smart one. But for those who do not like Perry’s material, its a sad day for the network.

  11. Oprah knows that Tyler Perry has a huge audience and she is hoping that the same audience follows him to OWN. This is a smart move on her part. This is business sense and it’s all about the benjamins!!

    Great article, Jay.

  12. I love Oprah and Tyler! I believe that if their partnership yields a more serious story line, instead of more over-rated comedy, it could be the perfect marriage.

    This blog is so wonderful because it gives me an opportunity to ponder current issues from others prospectives. Looking forward to the next post!!!

  13. This is interesting I think Tyler and Oprah can help each other.

  14. LOL! I just dont understand why people are so hard on Tyler Perry. I just dont. Yes, I sometimes agree that if you see one Tyler Perry movie you’ve seen them all. But he has a signature and there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s your thing. Lets check out some numbers. Records show that Madea’s Witness Protection brought in over $65 million. Madea Goes to Jail brought in over $50 million and Madea’s Big Happy Family brought in over a cool $25 million on opening weekend.Total Recall, which I hated by the way, brought in around 26 million on it’s opening weekend, and this was supposed to be one of the best action packed movies of the year. So, it’s obvious that Tyler Perry has a formula for success. Not to mention his shows on t.v., such as Meet The Browns, House Of Payne and For Better or Worse. Plus, he has an estimated net worth of $350 Million dollars. Ok, ok, ok…I’ll get off the man’s coat-tail. Oprah was thinking big, but it just isnt working right now. Yes, she had a lot of viewers on her show, but how many people really want to watch her network all day…especially men. That’s like saying, “hey bro, did you catch that movie on lifetime last night? It was awesome!” That’s just not happening. Dont get me wrong though, lifetime has great movies. However, that’s just not the popular thing to do if you’re a guy. When a man hears the “”OWN” network, he automatically thinks it’s a woman’s network. Doesnt make it right, but it is what it is. So, why not partner with a man who has shown over and over again that he can make numbers happen? We all know that this network will not break Oprah’s wallet, or purse shall I say, if it goes under. However, she is responsible for all the staff that is affiliated with it. So, let her come up with ways to keep jobs and opportunities for her employees. I think it’s a smart move.

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