On Monday, Tyler Perry sparked a social media debate when he went on Instagram to brag that he didn’t have a writers room for any of his T.V. shows. In other words, he claims he writes every episode of his various shows by himself. This includes OWN’s The Haves and the Have Nots, BET+’s Sistas and The Oval, and his upcoming shows Bruh and Ruthless.
“I wrote all of these scripts by myself in 2019,” he said in the Instagram video. “What’s my point? Work ethic!”
Perry later doubled down on his achievements in an Instagram photo of himself sitting in an empty room, writing on a laptop. He captioned the photo, “My writers room!!! To the millions of you who are loving what I do and watch my shows every week, don’t worry, I ain’t stopping!!! Don’t forget.”
Now no one is denying that writing multiple episodes for multiple shows requires dedicated work. However, the question arises whether the quality of the shows dip because there’s no collaboration involved.
Many writers who make it to the writers room on other T.V. shows have a profound work ethic because they have to build a substantial portfolio just to be considered as staff. Writers go through multiple drafts of plays, screenplays, T.V. pilots and short films so they can better their craft and build a catalogue worthy of hiring.
Imagine if these seasoned writers were hired on a Tyler Perry show. His shows would be complete with:
1. Fresh perspectives
Tyler Perry’s point of view is limited and while this might work for a play or a feature film, for a T.V. show with multiple episodes and multiple seasons, it can become problematic. For example, Perry has a whole show centered around Black women (Sistas), but he’s the sole person penning the episodes. Perry doesn’t understand the nuances of being a woman. He might’ve grown up with women and viewed them as strong, outspoken people, but he’s not in the room with them during their most intimate moments or during their vulnerable periods of solitude. Not to mention, Black women have a plethora of different experiences. These beautiful moments could elevate his shows to new heights.
2. Complex narratives that make sense
Surely Tyler Perry is filling his shows with plot twists and dramatic turns after the next. But another writer in the room could challenge him even more to take a road he might not have traveled (see fresh perspective above). More importantly, the collaborative twists will be better thought out and hopefully, they’ll make sense.
If Perry is writing multiple episodes of shows AND running a whole studio, it’s hard to believe he’ll go through multiple drafts of a script to complicate the narrative in a clear yet novel way. It’s most likely he’ll only be satisfied with the first or second idea and then just go with that.
3. Well researched narratives
To be a great writer it’s best to be well read, and to be well read requires time. Perry’s show The Oval takes place in The White House. Has Tyler Perry done the research necessary to know the ins and outs of such a location? Small details could reap major rewards to his writing. Also, how well does Perry understand certain political issues. One topic that Perry never even thought about could be used as a story arc to heighten the stakes in a season. Again, Perry’s perspective is limited just like all of us. Having two or three people in the room who have a different perspective, and therefore a different approach to research, could help elevate his shows.
But these are just suggestions.
An imagining of a pro-writers room Tyler Perry who’s giving more opportunities to talented writers.
Maybe it’s just a fantasy.
But do you Tyler Perry.
It seems to be working as far as ratings are concerned. In terms of quality content and more opportunities for creatives… that continues to be up for debate.