If someone had told Jeremy Carden he’d be making a living reviewing a soap opera, he wouldn’t have believed them.
“I would have said, ‘Man, you crazy,’” says the 27-year-old Liberty University grad, who runs the YouTube channel “The Haves and the Have Nots Review,” which covers the Tyler Perry drama that airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
“The Haves and the Have Nots” was outside of Carden’s typical go-to types of entertainment, like anime and superhero properties, but when he watched the series premiere with his mother in 2013, it immediately grabbed his attention.
“Ten minutes into the first episode, we were both hooked,” he says.
The first scripted show on OWN and, as Variety reports, its most popular series to date, “The Haves and the Have Nots” follows three families in Savannah, Georgia — two wealthy and one working-class — that are more intertwined than they appear to be.
“Melodramatic and over the top in a delicious, soapy kind of way, Tyler Perry’s ‘The Haves and The Have Nots’ exists right smack dab in the middle of the title director’s wheelhouse,” Mack Rawden wrote for CinemaBlend in 2013. “Between the large interconnecting cast of characters spanning multiple socioeconomic levels to the buried secrets hidden beneath a mountain of rocks, it is the most Tyler Perry-ish thing on television.”
Carden says what drew him to the show was that it wasn’t a comedy, a difference from so many of Perry’s properties — especially the one revolving around his famous Madea character.
“It’s the mystery of who’s cheating on who and, it got to the point where, who killed who, who was involved,” he says. “The thing that makes this show so amazing is the fact that there are so many cliffhangers that leave viewers on the edge of their seats.”
Carden started writing about the show on his blog before he switched to posting videos on YouTube.
When the channel jumped from a couple hundred subscribers to a few thousand in 2016, he quit his job at LU Online’s call center to focus all his time on making videos.
Leaving behind the security of a traditional job with a steady income was a bit of a gamble. Following the model of many YouTubers, Carden earns an income through the monetization of his channel, earning money from the ads on the video-sharing website.
The more people watch his videos (and the ads that play before them), the more money goes into his pocket. Most channels only make between $1.50 and $3 for every thousand viewers, The Cut reported in 2018.
But the risk paid off. As of last week, Carden’s channel had 15 million views and more than 81,000 subscribers.
“I have a very devoted fan base,” he says. “More often than not, I’ll receive hot topics of discussion from them via tweets, comments, DMs, etc. that helps me to create new content for videos. I’m a one man ‘business’ because I do all of the recording, editing, posting things on social media.”
What sets his channel apart from others is that it doesn’t just review episodes, Carden says. He does deep-plot analysis, breaks down trailers and even explores possible theories for where the show is heading.
“‘The Haves’ fan base is definitely a passionate one, and no one is more passionate than Jeremy,” actor Oscar Torre, who plays recurring character Vinny Malone on the show, wrote in an email to The News & Advance last week. “His Instagram and YouTube channel is a place where many of the fans congregate after every episode and discuss every little thing that just happened in the episode. Without a strong fan base, no show lasts so many seasons on the air.”
It’s not just fans that have reached out to Carden; the YouTuber also hears from members of the cast, including Torre.
“It’s one thing to tweet the cast members and actually get a response, but to have people from the show contact me ... that really blew my mind,” he says.
Carden says he hopes to use his success in reviewing “The Haves and the Have Nots” to talk about other properties he likes.
So far, he’s made videos about “Pokemon,” The CW’s “The Flash” and Marvel’s “Spider-Man.” Carden also has started a channel where he offers more personal content, like stories about his college days and his takes on pop culture topics.
But he’s definitely not abandoning the show that opened the door.
After all, Carden says, the series, currently in its sixth season, is already renewed through season nine.
“I remember finishing my communications degree and that was difficult to put into words what you can do with it,” says Carden. “Now, it is very interesting to say ‘I make YouTube videos for a living.’ Not too many people can say the same.”