2:42 AM / Friday March 24, 2023

11 Dec 2011

Heavy on the “Worse”… Tyler Perry’s newest offering, “For Better or Worse” is about as good as his previous efforts… which means it’s pretty bad

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December 11, 2011 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

By Denise Clay


Because it’s the Holiday Season, I made the conscious decision to try and be nicer about a lot of people and things that I’m usually pretty snarky about. In any season in which the phrase “Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men” is uttered, at least once, you should at least give the “goodwill” thing a shot.


Among those people and things that I’m trying to be nicer about is entertainment mogul Tyler Perry.


Now, if you’ve ever talked to me about Tyler Perry or have seen any columns I’ve written about the man, you know that I’m not a big fan of his work. I tend to be less than a fan of any movie or television show that’s so transparent or badly written that I know how the story is going to end by the end of the opening credits.


Add this to Perry’s propensity to assault us with the annoying-as-all-hell Madea, his penchant for stereotyping Black men and women as buffoons, emasculators and other less useful folks, and acting so bad that it makes dinner theater folks wince and you get a recipe for Snark on the Rocks.


But when I was asked to review his new show, “For Better or Worse” I went in fully intending to do the whole “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men” thing with Perry and his latest production. I’ll give it a chance and maybe it’ll surprise me, I thought.


The only thing that surprised me was just how gawdawful it was. In terms of nadirs, I thought that Perry had hit his by casting Kim Kardashian in his latest film “The Marriage Counselor”. [See Perry’s letter on page 23]


After spending this half-hour that I’ll never get back with characters that were part of Perry’s films “Why Did I Get Married?” and “Why Did I Get Married Too?” and other folks who should know better, I now see that I was wrong.


In fact, my whole “Peace on Earth” vibe went right on out the window.


This show, which stars Tasha Smith and Michael Jai White as Angela and Michael, the couple who were always one step away from dueling restraining orders in the “Why Did I Get Married?” movies. She’s still irrationally jealous and he’s still far more tolerant than he should be. He’s also got a baby-mama who is trying to get with him while sleeping with his business partner.




But lest you think that’s the only stereotype available in this stereotype-fest, there are others: There’s the girl who’s trying to get her reluctant boyfriend to marry her and can’t close the deal, the loud, dark-skinned girl who solves all of her problems with some form of physical violence.




While the acting is pretty atrocious, I can’t really blame the cast, which includes Kent Faulcon, Crystle Stewart, Kiki Haynes and Jason Olive for the mess that “For Better or Worse” is. You can only deliver the lines you’ve been given. The fact that you’re doing so like you’re literally reading them is just a consequence.


A lot of the blame for this mess rests squarely on Perry’s shoulders.


Now, I guess if I were the type that expects nothing and thus is never disappointed, I’d write off the chicken-and-rib-bone circuit nonsense that is at the heart of this and most of Tyler Perry’s other schtick. If I were the type who believes that “He’s getting paid. Stop hatin'” is a good enough excuse for accepting really bad writing to go with my bad acting, I’d probably let it go.


But I’m not. So I’m just going to come right out and say that Tyler Perry is possibly the worst screenwriter in the world and will probably never get better because (a) he refuses to try (b) he refuses to let others help him and (c) his fans will never make him improve.


He refuses to try because far too many folks excuse his lack of skill by making crap like “For Better or Worse” a hit through watching…and much to my chagrin loving…it.


He refuses to let others help him because you can tell from the pacing of “For Better or Worse” that the screenwriters are basically writing what Perry tells them to write. Funny thing about screenwriters: if you actually let a professional screenwriter do his or her job, you get snappy dialogue, a coherent storyline, and something that folks might enjoy…none of which is present here.


Why his fans won’t make him improve is beyond me. Been trying to figure that out for years now.


The show comes on Friday nights at 10 PM on TBS (not real funny) and if you can stand it, you can see back-to-back episodes.


But if you can sit through an hour of “For Better or Worse” you’re better than me…I’m still trying to figure out how to get that half hour of my life back.

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