Question: I am writing to you, but mostly to the African-American reader who wrote to you about Tyler Perry's House of Payne. I, for one, think it's a funny show. While I will agree that the first few episodes were rough, I find myself looking forward to it, and I TiVo it religiously. That reader kind of ticked me off, because maybe he doesn't personally go through the issues from the show, but they are definitely issues in a lot of families. I give thumbs up to Tyler Perry for doing the show he wanted to do, rather than what the networks wanted. I am proud to see a 90-percent black cast and wish there were more like this for my children to see. I think it's important to remember that this show is a comedy and thus makes light of issues. The episode this week about the son on the Internet and a predator coming to the house opened up a dialogue in my family about the issue. If you don't like the show, don't watch it! But let it be for those of us (and trust me, there are a lot) who do like it! The reader who put this black show down was then saying that there are no shows that represent them. Maybe this is not the best show for everyone, but it is definitely making a point that African-Americans do have a voice and want to see things that appeal to them, whether they be serious or funny! When you jump out of the gate and condemn them, then we go back to watching shows like Friends and Seinfeld that in no way reflect us. Next time, think before you speak, please.
Answer: Clearly, there's an appetite for Tyler Perry's brand of comedy, and there's no question TV could use more comedies (and dramas) servicing minority audiences. But to give too much credit to a show just because it's African-American makes as little sense to me as when gay audiences continued to overembrace something like Queer as Folk after it went off the rails into self-parody. If people are willing to settle for the amateurish quality of House of Payne just to see themselves reflected on TV, so be it. And if some families think it's funny, good for them. But it's unfair to accuse someone of not "thinking before they speak" just because they disagree with you. I doubt the future of African-American TV rests on the shoulders of this show, but it's already successful, so what's the problem? If Perry had any ambitions for this show beyond cranking out a cash cow, it certainly isn't evident in the writing or casting.