3-04-2010 B Show - Tyler Perry & Janet Jackson

Munya Vomo

Let’s start with the facts: Love Thy Neighbor is yet another Tyler Perry offering coming to your screens. It was written and directed by the man who has brought us Madea films for the past decade.

The show is said to have the second-highest ratings on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN. The top show is another Perry production, The Haves and the Have Nots, which I wrote about a few weeks back.

When she started her network, Winfrey and Perry had a deal that saw him contribute creative material from time to time. Perry took advantage of this; between penning and directing his Madea movies, he creates shows for OWN.

Love Thy Neighbor is a sitcom set in the Love Train Diner and we follow the owner, Hattie Mae Love, and her middle-class family with their middle-class problems and solutions.

The diner is situated on an old train that has been turned into an eatery which is famous for Hattie Mae’s legendary recipes. It is where everyone hangs out so we are drawn into either liking or loathing certain characters who frequent the place.

While this sounds like an episode from Cheers, it is a good thing that Perry provides TV with an alternative voice. The only problem is that his friendship with Winfrey has reached a point where they do not know how to make business decisions. How can the guy write and direct a soapie (The Haves and the Have Nots) then go straight on to write and direct a sitcom (Love Thy Neighbor)? At some point something has to give and it shows in his work.

Instead of overloading him with work, Winfrey must make the call to reduce the number of shows he submits to the channel so that he spends more time on each project.

You don’t have to be in Hollywood circles to know that as we speak there is another Perry film in the making. So the question is: where does the guy find the time?

Another thing, after the success of his older sitcom, The House of Payne, Perry has a lot to prove with Love Thy Neighbor. It remains to be seen if it will be just as successful.

l Love Thy Neighbor airs every Wednesday at 7pm on Vuzu, DStv channel 116.