Is it possible for a perfect scheme to go horribly wrong in so many ways? That was part of the premise of the first season of "Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots," which had a lot of humor and high drama to make up for some of the familar soap opera plot cliches. The season ended on such a high note that season two should be very interesting once it premieres.
"Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots" followed how two very different families had a lot more in common than either of them expected. The Young family was a working class group of individuals who mostly lived by their principals. On the other hand, the Cryers had more money than most would dream about, but their lives were filled with enough secrets and lies to drive anyone insane. Surprisingly, the families managed to cross paths in both expected and unexpected ways. Hanna Young (Crystal Fox) was hired as a new maid for Katheryn (Renee Lawless) and Jim Cryer (John Schneider) in an effort to cover her growing medical bills. She also had the help of her devoted son Benny (Tyler Lepley) as he started his own business, but Benny's devotion to Hanna's estranged daughter Candace (Tika Sumpter) threatened to derail everything. Unfortunately, Hanna also had to deal with her friendship with fellow maid Celene (Eva Tamargo) falling apart due to some hidden jealousy on Celene's part. Hanna's working relationship grew personal with Katheryn as they bonded over having to deal with their shared battle with Breast Cancer. Hanna recovered from it, while Katheryn was struggling through it alone. Jim was playing a battle of wits and sexual blackmail with Hanna's deceptive daughter Candace that pulled in Jim's daughter Amanda (Jaclyn Betham) and his best friend David Harrington (Peter Parros). It's hard to tell what Candace's true motives are, especially when it comes to her friendship with Amanda. How will everyone react once the truth comes out about everything? Only time will tell.
In terms of questions, "Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots" posed a few big ones as the first season came to a close. Viewers thought that Candace's plan was merely based on a quick sexual blackmail scheme, but there was so much more to it than easy money. She was in it for the long haul in her friendship with Betham's Amanda in more ways than one. The reveal was a nice twist and allowed Sumpter's Candace to remain in the Cryer's orbit a little longer for the next season. The story also allowed Betham's wallflower Amanda to develop a little more of a backbone than she had from earlier in the season. Unfortunately, the story also managed to pain Betham's character as a victim in another way as she was kept in the dark over Candace's true motives. The other plot question was the over the fate of Lepley's Benny after he was struck by a car that Jim's son Wyatt (Aaron O'Connell) was driving while he was high on drugs. It was a shocking twist after both characters never shared any screen time until that very moment. The story also demonstrated some potential for material that likely take over season two as both families struggled under the weight of their own secrets. The finale's most memorable moment was a quieter as Fox's Hanna made the accidental blunder of telling Lepley's Benny who his father was after keeping the truth such a closely guarded secrets for years. It gave Fox's Hanna something else to do in terms of acting material as she dealt with the weight of her own secret. Luckily, viewers will get to find out in January about how Lepley's Benny will, or will not, respond to the unexpected revelation if he managed to recover from the accident.
As for breakout performances, Lawless, Schneider and Sumpter led the pack as their characters were placed in an unexpected triangle that was full of lies and crimes to keep people guessing as to what will happen next. Lawless was able to add some comedic and dramatic bite to the usually routine role as the wronged wife. She embodied Katheryn with the right amount of vigor and vulnerability to make her relatable to viewers in some degree. Lawless also had a strong rapport with Fox that allowed viewers some moments of laughter, even when the characters felt like crying. Schneider, on the other hand, had the opportunity to play a character who was less than honorable for a change as he focused on his character's impulses instead of his moral code. He seemed to have fun allowing Jim to enjoy his baser instincts, even though it was against his better judgment. He also had a strong rapport with both Lawless and Sumpter that mixed foreplay and verbal sparring. Schneider's most memorable scene came when Sumpter's Candace came to confront Katheryn about her affair with Jim. Surprisingly, there was no true victor in the scene but it was still entertaining to watch at least one secret come out. Sumpter's Candace had the biggest impact this season because her character was the driving force for most of the season's stories. Every character's story was simply a response to whatever Candace was doing, which was a good thing. She allowed viewers to love and hate her character at the same time. Hopefully, viewers will get to see Sumpter's Candace at the height of her greatest scheme yet, or enjoy watching her burn in the process.
"Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots" aired its season finale on September 3rd at 9:00 PM on Own. Season two is slated to premiere in January.
Verdict: A show that started off a little slow and tripped over some familiar soap opera cliches, but it got much better as the season progressed. The season concluded on a shocking cliffhanger that made viewers want season two to come sooner rather than later.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)