By LIZ MINIET
When Tyler Perry’s locally filmed new drama on TLC, “Too Close to Home,” started last week with its first two episodes, my colleague Rodney Ho’s preview gave you an idea what to expect.
I’m here to view this new show, where a political scandal forces a White House intern to return to her trailer park roots in Alabama, through the eyes of a soap fan. I’ve followed some daytime soaps over the years (RIP, “As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light”) and watched MANY nighttime soaps, from “Dallas” and “Dynasty” to “Melrose Place” to “Revenge,” “Nashville” and “Scandal,” just to name a few.
Now that Lifetime’s “Devious Maids,” which also films locally, has wrapped up its fourth season, leaving us wondering what happened to Marisol on her wedding day, “Too Close to Home” is showing up at the perfect time with its eight episodes.
After watching the first two episodes of “Too Close to Home,” I’m here with five reasons why a soap fan might like this show:
1. Heather Locklear as a first lady out for revenge: When Locklear played Sammy Jo on “Dynasty” in the 1980s, Sammy Jo did some bad things, but she was just a soap villainess in training, compared to Joan Collins’ Alexis. On “Melrose Place” in the ’90s, Locklear stole the show as Amanda, who wasn’t all bad but you really didn’t want to cross her. On “Too Close to Home,” she’s a first lady who learns her husband is having an affair with an intern, Anna (Danielle Savre). There’s nothing quite as soap opera-ish as a Locklear character threatening to ruin somebody.
2. A stepped-on character with a heart of gold: Every soap has at least one of these. Back in Alabama, Anna’s sister Bonnie (Kelly Sullivan) is a diner waitress raising several kids, taking care of her mama and dealing with a selfish boyfriend and a drug addict sister. So far, she seems to be a good gal who does for everybody else and doesn’t worry enough about her own happiness. I think Anna is supposed to be the central character, but Bonnie steals our sympathies (so far, at least).
3. A good-looking guy caught between two sisters: In this case, we have Brody (Brock O’Hurn), who picked Anna over Bonnie, only to have Anna later leave him behind for a life in D.C. It looks like Bonnie and Brody are getting closer, but you have to wonder what happens when Anna returns. (And that’s coming soon.) O’Hurn won’t win any Emmys anytime soon, but I’m betting we haven’t seen his last shirtless scene. Who is O’Hurn, this guy with the Fabio hair that’s holding up amazingly well in the South? He’s been called the hottest guy on Instagram.(Check out my colleague Jennifer Brett’s story about him earlier this year.)
4. Parents who shape how characters turn out: The strained relationship (rivalry, even?) between Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her dad, Rowan (Joe Morton), is a major part of “Scandal,” but the impact of parents is a recurring theme in soaps. Wasn’t J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) always striving for his daddy’s approval on “Dallas”? And more recently, didn’t Amanda/Emily (Emily VanCamp) base her whole life on avenging her father on “Revenge”? On “Too Close to Home,” there’s a mother we haven’t seen yet, but we know that at least one daughter, Bonnie, feels the need to look out for her and that the condition of her trailer terrifies her grandkids. Plus, Anna lied to everybody in D.C. about her background. Meanwhile, it appears that Brody’s dad, Dr. Allen (Alpha Trivette), has some form of dementia — and perhaps a deadly secret.
5. Conspiracies? In the days of “Dallas” and “Dynasty,” we would’ve called them schemes, but in modern shows like “Scandal” and even “Devious Maids,” we have conspiracies, involving everything from B613 to cults. It’s too early to tell, but I think the presidential heart attack was suspicious. We’ll see.
“Too Close to Home,” 9 p.m. Mondays, TLC