When David and Tamela Mann got into the reality TV business, their North Texas hometown practically became a costar.
The stars of “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns” opened the doors of their home in Mansfield to a television crew in 2015.
Their show, which also features members of their large blended family, originated on BET as “It’s a Mann’s World.” Now it’s on TV One as “The Manns,” airing at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The key ingredients of the show are the same: lots of laughs and lots of love.
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There’s still a lot of Mansfield in the show, too. So isn’t it about time the city said thanks by changing its name, at least for a day, to “Mannsfield?”
“We’re trying to work on that now,” David says, joking along. “I just talked to the mayor and I’m trying to get it changed up right now. Soon the city will be ours!”
David and Tamela — married for 29 years, with a blended family of five grown kids and eight grandchildren — admit they weren’t 100 percent sure about making a reality TV show in the beginning.
The tone of such shows often become snarky and mean-spirited. But the Manns say the set-up with this show couldn’t have turned out better.
“We’ve been having a fantastic time,” Tamela says. “This show, it’s for the whole family, from ages 1 to 99.”
The Manns also have a sitcom up and running. It’s called “Mann & Wife,” airing at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Bounce TV. They play Daniel and Toni, recently married with a blended family of four kids.
David and Tamela Mann will probably always be best known from various incarnations of “Meet the Browns,” from 2004 stage play to 2008 feature film to 2009-2011 TV sitcom (140 episodes).
David starred as Leroy S. Brown, the dim church deacon with the comically loud outfits and shrill voice. Tamela co-starred as Cora Simmons, Mr. Brown and Madea’s longsuffering daughter.
“We stopped making ‘Meet the Browns’ the show years ago,” Tamela says, “and people still inquire, ‘Are you going to do more?’ ”
“The show was popular because people saw those characters in their own families,” David says.
Family is an integral element of “The Manns.”
“We’re not trying to paint a picture that we’ve got a perfect family,” Tamela says. “We have issues like everybody else. We just handle them a little different. We don’t go for each other’s throat.”
Adds David: “The Manns put the fun in dysfunctional.”
Executive producer Roger Bobb tells why he thinks the Manns are perfect for reality TV:
“My relationship with the Manns goes way back to ‘Meet the Browns,’ ” he says. “We were doing a sitcom and the funniest stuff was happening when the cameras weren’t rolling.
“My thought was, ‘We have to let the world see who the Manns really are.’ Not playing characters. Not David playing Tamela’s father, which is whack.
“Nothing is contrived with what we do. You’re getting real, authentic reactions, emotions, feelings. The joy, the pain, the love, the faith. Everything that’s involved in being a Mann.”
David is quick to point out that no bridges were burned when the show changed networks.
“BET was going a different direction,” he says. “Just so everybody knows, we’re still cool with BET. But we saw an opportunity to go with a network that matches our brand: good family television.”
The new season, which began last week, also has its share of poignant moments.
David: “This season, there are people crying a lot.”
Tamela: “We’ve got a roller-coaster going for you.”
David: “I watch it and I’m like, ‘Why am I crying so much?’ ”
David and Tamela say they were best friends before they found romance. He was singing in a gospel trio with Kirk Franklin and Darrell Blair when she was introduced to the group.
“A friend said, ‘I know someone who can sing better than all of y’all,’ and we said, ‘Well, bring her on,’ ” David says. “So long story short, Tamela came over and blew us all away.
“We became friends and hang-out buddies over the years. I know she was probably thinking, ‘I would never date this guy.’ But then I kissed her, she fell in love and that’s the story I’m telling.”
“Oh, wow,” Tamela says. “most of that story is true!”
Most of the episodes of “The Manns” are filmed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
David and Tamela say they can’t think of any place they’d rather live.
“I even love the hot summer days,” Tamela says, “as long as we’ve got a good air conditioner.”
Adds David. “We’ve traveled the world, but there’s no place like home.”
- 7 p.m. Tuesday
- TV One