The Haves and the Have Nots — Possibly the Most Disappointing Primetime Soap Ever — Cancelled by OWN
OWN / Courtesy of the Everett Collection
The show should have been great… but was more often a hot mess.
After eight seasons and 196 episodes, Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots will be coming to an end later this year, according to our sister site, Deadline. Following tonight’s midseason finale, the soap’s last eight episodes are set to begin airing in May. And while there was a time when this news would have been majorly disappointing for fans, it’s more likely to be greeted with a shrug thanks to the sluggish plots and repetitive dialogue which ultimately rendered the show borderline unwatchable.
Introduced in 2013 with great fanfare as the first scripted drama to be rolled out by OWN — aka the Oprah Winfrey Network — The Haves and the Have Nots was loosely based on Perry’s play of the same name. So loosely, in fact, that the two had little in common apart from their title and the basic premise it implied. Both told the story of a rich clan and the family of their poor housekeeper.
The similarities, however, ended there.
Soap fans were drawn to the new sudser from the start, thanks in part to the presence of Tika Sumpter (Layla, One Life to Live), whose Candace was a hooker most definitely not of the “heart of gold” variety. Over time, however, Candace’s antics took a back seat to those of scene-stealing Veronica who, thanks to a no-you-know-whats-to-give performance by Angela Robinson, became one of the most hiss-worthy villainesses to ever strut in a pair of stilettos.
What set The Haves and the Have Nots apart from soaps in general and its daytime brethren in particular was its willingness to take huge risks. Veronica wasn’t simply a shrew, she was openly homophobic, often referring to her gay son as “girl.” So heinous was her behavior that when Jeffrey picked up a knife and stabbed his mother in her breast implant — yes, you read that right — the audience cheered.
Plotwise, the show was not afraid to go out on a limb, whether by introducing a closeted cop who sexually harassed the men he arrested or the shocking death of Candace’s young son, gunned down as a result of gang violence.
Another way in which The Haves and the Have Nots distinguished itself from other shows was with its diversity. The characters came from every walk of life and ethnic background. More importantly, characters weren’t simply written as Black or Asian or gay, they were allowed to represent different aspects of those cultures. Some defied stereotypes, others were — as sometimes happens in life — the very epitome of them.
Unfortunately, the show’s plots seemed to completely stall right around the third season. Money which Candace stole during the first few episodes was still being passed around like a hot potato eight seasons later. Numerous crimes — including several murders — went unpunished and promising plots were dropped midstream.
But the soap’s biggest sin — and one which was present from the get-go — was the wildly repetitive dialogue. It was not at all uncommon for characters to spend three or four minutes simply repeating the same words but in a different order.
Still, pleasures don’t come much guiltier than The Haves and the Have Nots, and it was proof that soaps come in all shapes and sizes. Its success led OWN to green-light another Tyler Perry serial, If Loving You Is Wrong, which enjoyed a five-season run before being axed last year. OWN also launched the Robin Givens’ vehicle Ambitions, another primetime soap which, though it lasted only one season, left genre fans wanting more and hoping it might be picked up elsewhere.
Ironically, even as OWN has cancelled all three of its soaps, ABC has been quietly (until recently) developing Pine Valley, the highly anticipated primetime reboot of the much-missed All My Children. All of which goes to prove that serialized storytelling is here to say and perfectly poised to come roaring back.
Were you a fan of The Haves and the Have Nots? Hit the comments below to tell us which plot you most want to see resolved… not to mention how badly you want to see Veronica pay for her multitude of sins. Then visit the photo-packed gallery below to relive the glory days of another primetime soap we still miss, Knots Landing.