Charlotte is no stranger to the big screen — hits like “The Hunger Games” and HBO’s “Homeland” were both filmed in popular neighborhoods around the city. Now, the spotlight is on the Queen City again, but this time it’s reality television.
The Oprah Winfrey Network’s newest show, “To Have and To Hold: Charlotte” follows the lives of five couples: Alane and Yandrick Paraison; Ursula and Clinton Douglas; Tyyawdi and David Hands; Christine and Darhyl Pulley; and Josh Anglero and Peter Carey — plus Josh’s ex, Juliana Anglero — as they navigate the hardships of marriage and relationships.
From troubled finances to steamy sex lives and potential separations, there’s almost no topic this group of friends will leave untouched as they support each other on the difficult journey that is love.
About the cast
Charlotte socialites Alane and Yandrick Paraison are energetic entrepreneurs who have been married for 15 years. Between a packed social calendar, a failed business venture and raising four children, the Paraisons often find themselves stretched thin financially and emotionally. But no matter what, they seem to always land on top with their friends close by their side.
Their friends include Clinton and Ursula Douglas, who decided to give love a second chance after each experiencing failed marriages. Together, they blended their families and successfully emptied their nest. And now after 13 years of marriage, they’re reclaiming their love.
For Christine and Darhyl Pulley, sexy is second nature. The Lake Norman residents also affectionately known as “the DINKS” (double income no kids) have it all: a home on the lake, luxury cars and successful careers. After 10 years of marriage, Darhyl has the desire to start a family, but his wife might not be ready to compromise their lifestyle.
Across town, their friends Tyyawdi and David Hands have managed to maintain their power couple status — Tyyawdi is a district court judge, and David is a transactional attorney. However, the pressure of their demanding careers and raising their two children has put a strain on their relationship, and the couple finds themselves growing apart. Now, they are working to define what they want for their future.
Also experiencing love’s complications is Josh Anglero and Peter Carey. Together for eight years, the pair have become inseparable, and now they are ready for the next step. However, getting to the altar may prove to be more difficult than expected with Josh’s ex-wife, Juliana Anglero, in the picture. While the trio have worked tirelessly to raise Josh and Juilana’s daughters, once again things have gotten complicated, and it may be time to reset a few boundaries.
Opening up their homes to the nation and exposing weakness in their marriages, finances and friendships was no easy feat for this group of friends. However, for some cast members, signing on to the first season of “To Have and To Hold” was an easy decision.
“I did not have any concerns; I did not have any hesitation, because this is my city, and I’m filming with friends. It’s very easy for me because I really wanted to be transparent, I wanted to be honest and I wanted people to see our story because people will relate to our story,” Alane said.
However, castmate Ursula had reservations.
“I had a lot of reservations. I told Clinton I didn’t want to do it. But [I agreed to do the show] because I’m familiar with these people, and I’m not being thrown into a cast to pretend like we’re friends.” she said. ”We really do care about each other, and it’s been a remarkable experience.”
In the world of reality television, instant celebrity can be a kiss of death to healthy relationships, but cast members said they’re not concerned about a “reality TV curse.”
Christine believes that pre-existing issues lead to the demise of many couples who dare to do reality television.
“Darhyl and I already have a strong relationship — this bond right here, we are good. So as long has he was on board, then I was good with doing the show], knowing nothing can come between us,” she said.
Another way to avoid the “reality TV curse,” cast members said, is to create boundaries. So when it came time to begin filming, the group of friends decided early on that no matter what, children were off limits.
“For me and my wife, we wanted to make sure we protect our kids. Although we’re going through a rough patch in our marriage, we wanted to make sure that the kids weren’t in any of these scenes,” David said.
“There was a lot of pressure to let the kids know about the situation, which we did — we would just never do that on camera. We owe that to our children, to protect them,” he added.
Similar to Tyyawdi and David, Josh and Juliana are seeking to protect their children while sharing their story.
“We have children, and the situation that we’re in, it is complicated, and it is hard. And if my kids are seeing Josh and I, or Peter and I, bicker at each other, then there’s a disconnection and who feels that? My kids,” Juliana said.
Additionally, each couple created boundaries within their own relationships to protect themselves and their spouses. Yet for some, as the season goes on, they find boundaries lines being blurred.
“We didn’t want anyone in our bedrooms, and we didn’t want to talk too much about sex … but somehow it all changed,” said Darhyl, who is notoriously known for his “48-hour rule.” That rule that requires the couple to never go longer than 48 hours without being intimate.
Meanwhile, Ursula and Clinton have no shame in sharing about what goes on behind closed doors — after all, they are empty nesters. They have however, drawn a strict line when it comes to sharing details with viewers about their past relationships.
“Ursula and I are a blended family, so our boundaries were that we were not going to talk about our past relationships with our exes. We’ve been together 15 years, we raised four beautiful daughters together and that’s where we were going to start, from there on,” Clinton said.
Even with those boundaries in place, the cast is committed to sharing their lives with viewers as authentically as possible.
“We signed up to share our lives with you all, for better or for worse,” Peter said. “My hope is that the show will strengthen our relationships and bring us closer together.”
Looking toward the future
For the cast of “To Have and To Hold,” the investment in the series’ success is deeply personal.
“My hope is that the show will strengthen our relationships and bring us closer together,” Peter said. “We’re starting to see each other for who we are. It’s kinda a therapeutic and cathartic experience for us.”
This “outer body experience” of watching themselves on TV, as David calls it, has allowed the castmates do some deep reflection about how they handle difficult situations.
In addition to transforming personally, the tight-knit group of friends hope that their platform is an opportunity for the city.
“We really wanted to expose Charlotte for the talent and the goodness Charlotte has,” Yandrick said.
From the restaurants and bakeries, to chefs, trainers, hairstylists and makeup artists, the cast was very intentional about pulling locally owned businesses into the show.
“I really hope that Charlotte looks at the opportunity that has been presented to them, because now we’re affiliated with a brand like Oprah,” Peter said.
Now that they are well into Season 1, Peter and his castmates want to know: How is Charlotte going to capitalize on this moment and use this as a platform to grow collectively?
“To Have and To Hold: Charlotte” is on OWN, every Saturday night at 10 p.m. or online at oprah.com.