There are allegedly people peeved with Tyler Perry, and no, it’s not over what looks to be a pretty horrific Boo! A Madea Halloween. Perry has a new show on TLC, Too Close to Home, and its all-White cast seems to have rubbed some the wrong way.
I don’t know who these individuals are, but it’s clearly somebody, as Perry was asked about it more than once, including by TMZ.
“It’s so ridiculous, man. People are people,” Perry told the photog. “If you’re writing a story about a woman and a man who are having pain and issues and they’re trying to get over things, it’s the same way for a Black person as a White person or anybody else. People are people, man. People need to let all that go.”
And when speaking on it to the Tom Joyner Morning Show this week, he said that he’s “so sick of folks asking me why I have a show full of White folks,” a topic he brought up on his own during the conversation.
A reporter asked me this and I’m thinking, “What the hell? What are you talking about?” Norman Lear, all those people who were writing for Black people for years, nobody asked them, “What makes you think you can write for Black people?”
Somebody asked me that at a press conference: “This cast is very different, what’s it like working with White people?”
I said, “Well, White people are so damn difficult!” And the whole room fell out laughing.
People are people. I’m writing a story about a girl who comes from a trailer park, who comes from a family with all kinds of dysfunction. There’s no difference in writing a story about a White girl who comes from a trailer park with a family that has a lot of dysfunction to writing a story about a Black girl who comes from a poor neighborhood with a family with a lot of dysfunction. It’s all the same.
I think we all get both sides of the coin. Perry entered this business making stories about Black people, starring Black people. The audience selling out those shows with their ticket purchases? Black people. The number of TV shows with casts that have a majority of White people? A huge chunk of what’s out there. Those with people of color leading? Small, but growing.
Maybe seeing Perry putting together a cast that includes no Black folks in leading roles might rub some the wrong way. However, this progression is to be expected. Perry started branching out in terms of casting years ago when he did The Family That Preys in 2008, and the cast of his show The Haves and the Have Nots is pretty diverse. Plus, it’s a move quite a few Black directors make, including the likes of F. Gary Gray and Spike Lee, who directed 2013’s Oldboy, starring Josh Brolin, which was a remake of the popular South Korean film from 2003. In order to have access to greater (as in bigger, not automatically “better”) opportunities, one has to be adaptable. And for someone who literally started with traveling plays, it’s great to see him come this far.
But White or Black cast, the drama and story lines are still the same: over the top. I tried to give the show a shot after turning to TLC on Monday night. It’s about a woman from humble beginnings who gets to work for the president and ends up having an affair with him. What I found myself subjected to was watching Heather Locklear call the girl a “whore” about 10 times in one scene. She literally promised to ruin her life and send her back to the trailer park while wearing the blankest face (but the most rouge) ever. If nothing else, at least the man is consistent and delivers the same quality of work for everyone.
But what do you think? Is the large change in the look of his casts an issue, or a non-issue?