Tyler Perry knows how to tell a story, and we definitely can’t get enough. His latest release, “Madea Goes to Jail,” came in at No. 1 at the box office over the weekend, raking in an astounding $41.1 million. A common thread in all of Perry’s films is Black love. Whether it be breakups or make-ups or infidelity or new romance, there’s a lesson to be learned in every story. We’ve rounded up some of his most memorable on-screen couples to explore their relationships and how we can learn from their mistakes and triumphs.
“Madea Goes to Jail” introduces us to Joshua (Derek Luke) and Candace (Keshia Knight Pulliam). The two childhood friends and college classmates are reunited years after a tragic night changed both of their lives forever, leading Candace on a path of self-destruction. Her ability to forgive after hitting rock bottom gives her the courage to love herself and others again, melting the pain around Joshua’s own heart.
Andrea (Sanaa Lathan) and Chris (Rockmond Dunbar) have their whole lives ahead of them in this opening scene of Tyler Perry’s “The Family That Preys,” released in September 2008. But love isn’t enough for Andrea, who wants her happily ever after with a side of bling. Her blindness to the things that really matter come with a hefty price tag of the life she once knew. The film highlights the importance of couples working toward a common goal and having the same value systems.
Andrea’s sister Pam (Taraji P. Henson)and her husband Ben (Tyler Perry) are best friends. Their openness creates an intimacy and allows space for their romance to flourish, and for her to push him to be his best self in a genuine and loving way.
In the March 2008 release of “Meet the Browns,” Perry introduced the world to single mom Brenda Brown (Angela Bassett). Like many sisters, life had taught her that if something was too good to be true, it probably was. But Brenda’s all-business exterior didn’t stop basketball coach Harry (Rick Fox) from extending an interest pass helping her son to include her and her two other children. Brenda’s ability to take a chance on love one more time allowed her to see that fairy tales can come true. Just add faith.
In the 2007 hit film “Why Did I Get Married?,” Marcus (Michael Jai White) and Angela (Tasha Smith) find themselves asking that very question. Infidelity by them both and his meddling baby’s mother leave them at a crossroads, until Angela makes a list of the pros and cons of their relationship. She is then able to see that the good outweighs the bad and fights to keep their marriage alive. Marcus also sets boundaries with the mother of his children on their interaction, which is vital for he and his wife’s future.
In “Why Did I Get Married?,” Perry also shares Bishop T.D. Jakes’s theory on dating, which is that partners often get 80 percent of the things they want in a relationship. They then will seek out the other 20 percent they think they are missing, only to get that small portion and often lose the 80 percent they know and love. Mike (Richard T. Jones), center, gives up his 80 percent with wife Sheila (Jill Scott), center right, and finds 20 percent with her former best friend Trina (Denise Boutte), left. Mike’s betrayal proves for Sheila that what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. She learns to fall in love with herself and finds 100 percent happiness with Troy (Lamman Rucker).
The 2007 film “Daddy’s Little Girls” tells the story of corporate lawyer Julia (Gabrielle Union), who has an intense checklist of what her perfect guy will be like—and it doesn’t include a job as a mechanic or three children. But all that changes when Monty (Idris Elba) waltzes into her life and turns it upside down. Getting out of her comfort zone teaches Julia that a man working hard to take care of his family is more important than the uniform he wears to get the job done.
Lisa (Rochelle Aytes) shows what happens when a woman is fed up in the 2006 hit film “Madea’s Family Reunion.” Her meddling mom, played by Lynn Whitfield, proves the importance of keeping family out of your relationship as she urges her daughter to stay with her abusive fiance, Carlos (Blair Underwood), because of his high social standing. Lisa realizes she can do bad by herself and learns to believe people when they show you who they really are. Letting go of a bad relationship can free you to a brighter future.
Frankie (Boris Kodjoe) fights for his love with Vanessa (Lisa Arrindell Anderson) in “Madea’s Family Reunion.” After finding a man who loves her just the way she is, the baggage from previous relationships almost sinks Vanessa’s new love. Learning to forgive those who had wronged her and to not hold the next guy accountable for the actions of others, allowed them to build a strong foundation for a special kind of love.
Tyler Perry’s first big-screen production in 2005, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” opens with Helen (Kimberly Elise) being kicked out of her home by her husband—literally. The kindness and love shown to her by Orlando (Shemar Moore) aren’t able to truly penetrate until she picks up the pieces of her broken heart. Helen must also fully end the chapter with her former husband, which her mother (Cicely Tyson) points out is vital before beginning a new romance. Perry highlights the important lesson of forgiving yourself in order to become whole again in this love story.
Have any other favorite love lessons learned from Tyler Perry’s films? Share your thoughts below.