The first episode of Tyler Perry’s The Oval establishes that this series is going to bring the drama. Let me make that clear. Bring. The. Drama.
The Oval follows what is, in this imaginary world, the first interracial couple in the White House. It’s a White man named Hunter Franklin and a Black woman named Victoria Franklin, and they hate each other! Right from jump the episode begins with them in their bedroom fighting. I’m talking about, they are brawling like strangers in a bar fight. At one point they stop after Hunter slaps Victoria to the ground. She tells him she thought he said he’d never hit her again. He apologizes and taunts her by laughing, so she throws a glass at him and they start scrapping again.
Eventually, their fighting gets interrupted by a secret service agent telling them they have to get ready for their inauguration. They stop fighting and act super casual about it because this is clearly an everyday occurrence.
Next, we meet Donald Winthrop, the chief of staff. He’s overseeing several boxes being moved into the White House and tasks Richard Hallsen, the head butler, with taking care of the boxes because they contain the Franklins’ personal belongings. We figure out that Richard has been at his job for several years and is highly trusted. However, Richard has back issues, so he asks his son, Barry, to come help him. Shortly after that, Priscilla, the head chef and resident staff supervisor, rolls through and asks Richard if he thinks this family is like the Obamas. They don’t know what we know just yet, but Priscilla has a gut feeling that they ain’t ish. She is correct!
It’s clear that Richard’s family will be key players on this show and possibly the only people with a soul. In the next scene, we are at Richard’s home. Richard’s wife, Nancy, (or Ms. Nancy, as some people lovingly call her) is the family matriarch. She watches Callie, Barry’s daughter. Barry and his girlfriend live in the home with them, too. That’s messy, but we don’t really know what Barry’s financial situation is yet. Barry runs into his ex-wife, and Callie’s mother, Ruth, on his way out. Ruth is wearing a hijab, but we learn that she doesn’t have custody of Callie because she previously struggled with drugs and she’s in a religious cult (think along the lines of Nuwaubian Nation). Ruth demands to see her daughter, but Barry is adamantly against it. Nancy comes out and deescalates the situation because she feels bad for Ruth. When Barry leaves, she tells Ruth that she will let her in to see her daughter for an hour while Barry is out helping his father (and Barry’s girlfriend is at work). Seems harmless enough, right?
Next, Victoria gets word that her daughter, Gayle, refuses to get dressed for the inauguration, so she goes to apply pressure. The Franklins have two teenagers — a son and a daughter — and Gayle is established as the hellion. Victoria goes full on Evil Queen and demands that Gayle get dressed, and even calls her a b---h. Clearly, the dysfunction is generational. Victoria tells Gayle that she worked really hard to get people to accept her as Hunter’s wife and that she won’t let anyone ruin it. Gayle tells her mom that she ain’t never scared, not verbatim, but that’s the gist. Victoria hurls more threats around, but Gayle ain’t going to the inauguration, and that’s that. This family is definitely not like the Obamas.
Then we meet Lilly, who is Donald’s wife. She’s stuck on a plane due to inclement weather and can’t make it to the inauguration. She calls Donald and tells him the news and he is pissed that she won’t be there because, apparently, he “worked his ass off to get this man elected and to get this moment for her.” Basically, she’s a designer, and Victoria is rocking one of her dresses. Lilly tells him that she will get a car when the plane makes its emergency landing and drive to D.C. That’s obviously not going to get her there on time, because the plane is landing in Charlotte. The drive from D.C. to Charlotte is a good six hours. Meanwhile, her seat mate is this beautiful chocolate man who, while he looks nice, is actually a creep. He keeps flirting with her and shooting his shot despite her disinterest. She’s good at blocking him at first, but it’s obvious that he’s going to hit a slam dunk at some point.
Victoria and Hunter make their appearance at the inauguration and act as fake as possible. Their first dance is to Al Green’s version of “You Are So Beautiful.” Victoria smiles as she tells her hubby that she hates him when the dance is over. She was triggered because she spotted his Black mistress in the crowd. President Franklin obviously has a type.
Richard and Barry are going on about their box business as usual, but then they get interrupted by secret service bringing in Gayle, who is stupid drunk. Richard assigns a woman named Jean to take Gayle to her room, and Gayle demands that Barry take her instead. They hesitate at first because, obviously, the right thing to do would be to send a woman. Plus, Barry doesn’t even work there. He only got clearance because his father has been working there since he was a child. Gayle makes her demands again, and Barry follows her. But Richard ain’t no fool, so he sends Jean to watch them.
When Gayle gets to her room she kicks Jean out and comes on to Barry. Barry tells her to stop, but she wont. She hikes up her skirt, and when that doesn’t work, she gets on her knees and tries to give him oral. Barry tells her to stop again and tosses her to the side, but she hits her head on some furniture and gets knocked out.
This might sound like it all took a while to happen, but it moved really quickly. And honestly, Jean never should have left. Smh. Hold that thought.
Back to Lilly. The plane made its emergency landing, so she and her fine chocolate seat mate are sitting next to each other in the airport. He’s still acting like a thirst bucket, but eventually he wears her down. They head to the bathroom, which is one of those single bathrooms, and get it poppin’. He pounces on her and they engage in hot, steamy sex. The sex scenes on this show are intense.
Back at home with Nancy, we find Ruth on the couch next to Callie. Nancy tells Ruth it’s time for her to go, but she ain’t about to leave without her daughter. She shouts a special code word along the lines of “Ooh ooh ooh ah ah!,” and all of her cult goons start coming out of nowhere and help her kidnap Callie. Grandma Nancy puts up a good fight, but she just can’t take them all.
Now we get back to Barry. Jean comes barging in the room — as if she should have ever left in the first place — and finds Gayle unconscious as Barry panics. The woman asks Barry why her skirt is hiked up. Barry explains that she came on to him. Gayle eventually comes to, and of course she says that Barry raped her. The audience knows she's lying but will Barry be able to prove it?
We’ll have to wait until the next episode to see how this all plays out.
Tune in to The Oval Wednesday nights on BET!
Photo Credit: Tyler Perry Studios