HOLLYWOOD—Tyler Perry is at it again. The writer, director, producer and acting powerhouse has unleashed TLC’s first scripted drama series with “Too Close To Home” which dives deep into the political world and the many corruptions that surround it. Some might ink the series to the ABC hit “Scandal,” but there are indeed some differences between the two series. Where I feel “Scandal” has its narrative driven entirely by Olivia Pope, multiple players are crucial to the narrative in “Too Close To Home.”
For starters, this is quite a risky move for TLC; a network that is known for its family friendly series, and “Too Close to Home” pushes the boundaries with risqué dialogue, politics, sex, family, deception and so much more. It is steamy people, which is a sign that TLC is not afraid to push the envelope; the bigger question is how viewers will respond to the material. Equate the series to a soap opera, with characters whose past will be the driving force to where the narrative heads.
The premiere episode, ‘Dangerously Close, Alabama’ sees our main character Anna (Danielle Sefvre), living the high life in Washington D.C. along with her political friends. It looks like Anna is keeping major secrets about her true financial background and her family. She’s living a big lie, and its only a matter of time before those lies come to fruition. We have Valerie (Ashley Love-Mills), Dax (Nick Ballard) and Victor (Charles Justo) who are close knit pals of Anna. Dax and Victor are dating, and Anna is secretly hooking up with a high-powered politician, President Thomas (Matt Battaglia) who has her fearing for her safety and putting on a happy face when things aren’t so happy.
I will acknowledge that the character of Valerie I found quite annoying during the first episode. She seems to be the judgmental character who will always throw stones at others when they are down on their luck.
I do like that Perry has chosen to showcase the life of interns in the political world. I love the fact that we have a series that is willing to tackle issues of wealth, family upbringing and social status. Presenting a happy front to those who suspect all is well, when in truth, chaos is happening behind the scenes. Oh, and Perry has gotten such a treat for fans with Heather Locklear who tackles a feisty performance to say the least as the scorned wife who learns her husband has been hooking up with a younger and hotter version of her. Is she the Amanda from “Melrose Place,” not quite, but in just 1 episode she is a character that I immediately like. She has a sharp tongue and I love it!
Anna is doing everything in her power to stay away from Happy, Alabama, and it looks like J.B. (Brad Benedict), a face from the past is not happy with the choices that she has made. Back at her stomping grounds, Anna’s sister, Bonnie (Kelly Sullivan) is holding down the court for the family, while juggling paying the rent and handling her landlord’s hot-headed son Brody (Brock O’Hurn) who has an eye for Bonnie. The two shared a passionate kiss over a meal, when she stopped by his home to check in on him and his father. Whoa, this is twisted both Bonnie and Anna had a thing with Brody.
What a scandal people, during their passionate love affair, President Thomas suffers a medical crisis, which results in Katelyn (Locklear), learning about her husband’s extracurricular activities. Valerie is at a loss for words when she discovers that her pal has been having an affair with the POTUS, and she bails on her pal out of fear that her political career will be dead in the water. That confrontation between Katelyn and Anna was epic television people. Heather proves once again she portrays evil, unlike any other. She laid down the law in a matter of one interrogation that left this intern shaking in her heels.
Looks like the women in Anna’s family are full of surprises, because we meet Shelby, a hot, drunken mess, who is a drug addict and trapped in an abusive relationship. It looks like she has no place to go, and her son Matt has disappointment written all over his face witnessing his mother in a downward spiral. Valerie was a loose cannon, while Dax did his best to reason with Anna about her transgressions. At least Victor was willing to help Anna in her time of need, while the rest of the world scorned her. Looks like J.B. has bad blood with Shelby as well and it appears she has some secrets on this guy. It looks like Shelby and J.B. have a past, and the fact that she would come onto her sister’s boyfriend in her house is scandalous to say the least.
Brody almost had his head blown off by his father whose memory lapse is proving to be more difficult for Brody to handle than he expected. Man I love this character Bonnie, this is a woman, who is like superwoman, and while this series seems to be centered on Anna, Bonnie’s presence is just as strong in my personal opinion. That could be a testament of the acting from Sullivan who knows how to bring a level of sincerity to a character with the smallest mannerisms. Sullivan might be the most familiar face to people watching, as she appeared on the ABC soap “General Hospital” and recently wrapped a stint in May on the CBS soap “The Young and the Restless.” Watching that scene where she caught J.B. and Shelby having sex was just devastating to say the least. What’s worse is the fact that she didn’t even confront them right away.
Anna be careful, not wise to stay overnight at the apartment of a complete stranger that you just met. Shelby has lost her mind; she pulled a gun on J.B. and took off with his truck. Bonnie called J.B. out on his antics and ended their relationship, but a struggle ensued and Matt pulled a gun on J.B. which led to a tense confrontation.
“Too Close To Home” has a ton of heart people; at its core is a family that has splintered due to hard times, difficult choices, betrayals, lies and deception. Those final moments of the two-hour season premiere had headlines hitting the airwaves with news that the president suffered a heart-attack, and the last person to see him was Anna. Oh, let the political scandal make waves. Tyler Perry’s “Too Close To Home” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on TLC.