The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

June 10, 2013

The Color of Money: What our entertainment tells us

 We can deny it if we want, but we love to be entertained watching shows about people derailing their lives. Throw in an underlying theme of the rich versus the poor and the ratings soar.

     So I was curious how Tyler Perry's two new shows for Oprah Winfrey's OWN network would play. Pretty good. "The Haves and the Have Nots" and "Love Thy Neighbor" delivered the network its largest and second-largest series debuts "The Haves and the Have Nots," which airs on Tuesdays, is a drama about the Cryers, a rich white Savannah family (philandering powerful judge husband, old-money stay-at-home wife, drug-addicted son and psychologically frail law-student daughter).

     Their lives intersect with that of a new maid, Hanna Young, and her estranged, lying, scheming daughter and entrepreneur son. To balance the low-income Young family, Perry has included a stuck-up new-money black family, the Harringtons.

     "The rich get richer, and the poor get even," the tagline for the show reads.

     Is this art imitating life?

     I have to ask because we continue to see data that the rich are indeed getting richer. The average net worth of households in the upper 7 percent of the wealth distribution chain increased 28 percent during the first two years of the nation's economic recovery. But households in the lower 93 percent saw a 4 percent drop in their wealth, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Census Bureau.

     At the start of the "The Haves and the Have Nots," Judge Jim Cryer lies to his wife, telling her he is still at the courthouse when he's actually in a hotel room waiting for his paid escort, the 20-something Candace Young, who is Hanna's daughter. He invites Candace in. She says, "I thought I was coming to see an old man."

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