House of Payne

Okay, it’s time. . .

I gotta get this off my chest first: Tyler, get rid of the laugh tracks. They drive me CRAZY!

Okay, now I feel better.

About the show. . .I don’t think it’s great, but neither do I think it’s as bad as other people say it is. I used to be a big-time sitcom watcher, but nowaways House of Payne is the only one I watch. I record the shows each week and watch them before the week ends so I’ve seen every episode.

As with all new sitcoms, I think these actors have to get comfortable in their roles. I’m beginning to see that growth in these actors. Some of the acting makes me cringe, but I did a lot of cringing in the early days of “The Cosby Show” and “Family Ties” and a whole bunch of other sitcoms. The actors will be better.

I think what will help them get better is better storylines. The good news is that the storylines are getting better, but Tyler is going to continue to be challenged to keep it comedy when the topics being covered are far from funny. Maybe he should give up the laugh track and just tell the story. I think the laughs would still be there but they would come out of the situations. I mean, a crackhead wife and mother is not exactly a laughing matter, but sometimes you have laugh to keep from crying. I encourage Tyler to trust us, his audience, a bit more. He doesn’t have to try so hard to make us laugh. Just give us an honest portrayal of ourselves up there on the screen and we’ll laugh. I guarantee it.

I didn’t realize Tyler was getting a lot of flack because two of his lead characters (Ella and Curtis) are overweight by more than a few pounds. This surprised me. Apparently, some consider the “fat” female a negative portrayal of black womanhood. Even though Tyler sent out a letter defending his actors, he did add a slim Hispanic female to the cast. I wonder how many letters he’s going to get about that. Anyway, you can read the “Overweight and on TV” letter on his web site at Use the right arrow to scroll to the letter. It’s dated 6/18/07. I have to give him props for it. What do you think?

Back to the show. . .The scenes I like best are the scenes at the family house and at the “crackhead’s” house. The fire station is not doing too much for me. First of all, I don’t think anybody can be as stupid as those two guys in the fire station. Again, the comedy is a bit over the top to me.


Ella and Curtis, aunt and uncle to CJ, mother and father to Calvin: They’re a good couple, but they can tone it down a bit. I like them so they don’t have to try so hard. I think Ella does the big girls proud in her dress and grooming. She always looks good and wears clothing that’s complimentary to her body type. You go, girl!

CJ’s two kids, Malik and Jazmine: I love them and they’re only going to get better.

Calvin, Ella and Curtis’ son: I don’t have a real read on him yet. He had the whole show to himself last week, but I’m still on the fence.

CJ (Allen Payne), husband of crackhead and father to kids: This character is growing on me. I think he needs more airtime. I feel about him they way I feel about Calvin, but CJ has more background/history to work with. I’m thinking Tyler may have been better served without the Calvin character. He has a lot of characters to service in this show.

The two guys at the firehouse: To me, they’re the same guy, the only difference is that one is white and the other black. I’d get rid of one of them or try to make them a bit different. Right now, they’re both silly and not too smart. If one were serious, Tyler would have that contrast to work with. Right now, they’re just too silly for me.

The new woman: I’m not sure why she’s there. The show does need another woman to serve as a potential love interest for CJ at some point, but I don’t see this character in that role.

Janine, crackhead wife and mother: I like her. She’s not on regularly, but I think it works that she continues to show up off-and-on and cause upheaval in the family.

Now that I’ve finished writing this about the characters, I think I know what the problem is: This is too many characters for a half-hour sitcom. What do you think?


Crackhead wife and mother: This works for me. The show is not about her, but rather about the impact of her addiction on her family. Tyler can get a lot of mileage out of this.

Firehouse: I’m not getting it since none of the firefighters seem interested in firefighting. I think this one needs to be re-worked a bit. You can be a funny person and still be serious about your work, can’t you?

Grown kids returning home: This works for me, too. Just when Curtis and Ella should be getting the house back to themselves, here come the nephew and his kids. I think Tyler needs to be more clear on what Curtis and Ella are giving up by having CJ and his kids move back in. He shows Curtis as grumpy, but I don’t get enough to agree with his grumpiness. I did like the storyline where Curtis gave CJ some of his retirement money so CJ could put a downpayment on another place to live and CJ used it to pay for rehab for Janine, his crackhead wife.

Kid angst: I’m loving the kids. Tyler will continue to get mileage out of their antics. I cracked up when Jazmine had the candy-selling racket going on. I teared up when Malik told CJ how he felt having a crackhead mother. This was good stuff.

Irresponsible college son: This one is not working for me too much. Maybe this character is targetted for another demographic.

I think Tyler needs a storyline about Ella and Curtis that belongs to them. Maybe it could be something like keeping the romance at 40/50 when the kids won’t leave or something. Right now, they’re serving the other storylines with not a lot really about them. If they had their own goals as a couple, they would be stronger characters and would serve those other storylines better. Just a thought. By the way, what does Ella do all day? Does she have a job? Did she have to quit to take care of CJ’s kids? Inquiring minds want to know.

Overall show

I’m going to keep watching. I think the shows have gotten better since the two debuts shows. I’ve wondered more than once why Tyler and TBS chose to air those two first since they are clearly much weaker than the ones after them. I fear that some people turned the show off after the first week and they’re missing the growth and improvement in the show. Did you turn it off or are you still watching?

Okay, those are my thoughts. Tell me what you think.

If you haven’t seen the show or if you’ve missed some episodes, you can catch up online at

6 thoughts on “House of Payne

  1. Angela, I used to watch a lot of sitcoms too. I would especially give a shot to anything that had African-American leads, which is why I’ve seen a couple of HoP episodes.

    I agree that it’s not as bad as it was, and that with better storylines, it may even get better. I also agree that the aunt and uncle characters try too hard, and that the firehouse scenes don’t work. I don’t like the kids, which is surprising because I usually do like kids in a sitcom. Too precocious, too smart-mouthed for me. And I’m surprised-no, shocked-to learn that they’re getting flack about weight issues. Fact of the matter is that a lot of folks in this country, especially middle-aged African-Americans, are overweight. It’d be nice to seem them address this issue in a comedic yet not denigrating fashion.

    I hope they get a chance to develop it further. The Cosby Show is a great example of how to deal with some less-than-funny plotlines and still maintain a sense of humor. So was All In the Family.

    I don’t know if I’ll become a fan but it’s definitely better than the stuff they show on BET.

  2. First I would like to say that I am a fan of Tyler Perry’s work but that doesn’t mean that I like everything. The show is not funny at all. I have tried and tried to like it but I don’t. I can’t believe that it is still on the air. I feel that the stories are not funny and the uncle is not funny. They all look like they are trying to hard to be funny. I feel that this is Tyler’s first bust and we all have them. He should end it and go on with something else, like Daddy’s Little Girls II which I totally love. You still have my support but this one is a no-hitter!

  3. I watch very few sitcoms, and while I am aware that Tyler Perry had a new show, I don’t even know when it comes on. I’ll have to look for it. Based on what I’ve read here, I won’t expect a lot!

  4. I admit, after the two premier episodes, i turned off the television, and thought that Tyler Perry was losing his touch as funny. However, just recently, I sat and watched an all-day marathon of the episodes right up to the one where Janine was diagnosed with Post-P Depression after giving birth to twins…and the shows were not half-bad! I even smiled a couple of times. So I do agree that the shows are improving…I hope they keep it up.

  5. You know, I like that they’ve moved to the barbershop and away from the fire station. I like the characters in the fire station a lot better.

    I hate to say this, but Istill don’t like the Calvin character. Neither do I like Janine. I guess I won’t be watching for a while.

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