OWN's first scripted drama, Tyler Perry's "The Have and the Have Nots," got off to a great start among viewers, scoring record ratings, but was blasted by some critics.
The creative marriage between Perry and Oprah Winfrey -- at least for now -- seems to be a match made in ratings heaven for Winfrey's OWN. Tuesday’s back-to-back episodes of “The Haves and the Have Nots” were the network’s highest-rated premiere “ever,” according to a release from OWN.
The 9 p.m. airing delivered 1.77 million viewers (1.57 million of them women age 25-54). The second episode at 10 p.m. grew to 1.8 million viewers (1.67 million were women 25-54).
However, initial reviews for the series were not kind. OWN did not send the show out to critics prior to its premiere, mirroring Perry's policy of not allowing his films to be pre-screened for reviewers.
Brian Lowry of Variety called the show "claustrophobically cheap, not to mention poorly written and indifferently acted." He added that the show could potentially damage Winfrey's legacy of uplift and self-empowerment.
Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times was even more scathing, calling the show "so awful that the awfulness appears intentional. Except that might make it interesting, and it just isn't."
As far as not allowing critics to see the show before its premiere, McNamara wrote, "One can only assume OWN hoped to prevent us from rising en masse to prevent 'The Have and the Have Nots" from ever airing before staging intervention with Winfrey, who has apparently lost her mind."