Michael Slezak
July 15, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”Being Bobby Brown”: Taking dysfunction outside

Oh, from the mouths of babes…

When Bobby Brown’s nephew, McKinley, opened his mouth on tonight’s utterly depressing episode of Being Bobby Brown and shouted to his uncle, ”I don’t know what you’re thinking, but you ain’t the celebrity now!” it was one of the few true and coherent moments in the series’ brief history. It’s just a shame Bobby and his wife, Whitney ”The Forest Is Over!” Houston, don’t get served with that brand of brutal honesty more often, because it might just snap the duo out of their near constant state of clueless self-obsession.

Imagine if little McKinley were hired to dole out the verbal smackdowns every time Bobby or Whitney acted up. Their reality series — and their family — might be the better for it. Here are the things I’d have McKinley investigate:

Why do Whitney and Bobby barely have any interaction with their kids? Sure, Bobby bought along his only son for a shopping and camping excursion, but would he have even noticed if his child wandered off into the woods? As far as we can tell from watching this series, Bobby’s life is devoted to playing to the camera or else playing to Whitney’s bizarre whims, with maybe 21 minutes per day for all that other important stuff, like complaining about constipation and making half-hearted attempts at child rearing.

What’s with all the conspicuous consumption? Certainly, Bobby’s spending habits don’t rival, say, Michael Jackson’s in that Martin Bashir documentary, but did you notice the similarities as Bobby sought to snap up 10 fishing poles, several guns, camouflage outfits, hip boots, a bike, and a deep fryer in a matter of minutes? And the way he discarded each prize, like a 4-year-old moving on to the next birthday gift? Some folks have more money than sense.

Is the couple trying to traumatize poor Bobbi Kristina with their overtly sexual behavior? I mean, it’s one thing for parents to display a healthy affection for each other in the company of their kids; it’s an entirely different thing for Whitney to mutter, ”Take me across the river over there, behind a tree, and work me over,” within earshot of her preteen daughter. And after another week of Bobby’s pelvic thrusting into Whitney’s backside, I’m looking through the Rolodex for my therapist’s number, too. (See you in the waiting room, B.K.!)

Do we really need to see threats of violence doubling as foreplay? As shocking and unpleasant as it was watching Whitney slap her husband’s face when he made a joke about having mistresses, Bobby’s occasionally menacing gestures were far more disturbing because we’ve already seen him in court facing charges for allegedly battering Houston (a charge his wife eventually dropped). Oh, but wait. He warned that he wanted to smack her around with the cameras rolling, so that makes it hilarious, not sickening. How could I overlook the comedic possibilities of violence against women?

All sarcasm aside, though, when it comes to reality TV, it is preferable to have a criminal record than to be criminally dull. Problem is, only three weeks and four episodes into the series, Being Bobby Brown is on the brink of pleading guilty to the latter charge as well. Does anyone really care to see Bobby’s father put on his ”wacky old dude” persona by dancing the funky chicken and making incessant fart jokes? How about the horrendous guy on the jet ski offering to ”take Whitney for a ride”? We get it: Fans can be downright ghastly. But just like you shouldn’t wave a steak in a wild bear’s face, maybe it’s not a good idea to wave the prospect of national TV airtime in the face of a local yokel, either. Worst of all, how many consecutive weeks can Bobby and Whitney discuss their alarming digestive issues? (Sorry, but when you’ve referenced manual removal of a ”doodie bubble” in your first week, you’ve kind of numbed everyone’s sense of the outrageous.)

Thinking about Bobby rubbing his distended gut and complaining that camping didn’t agree with him, I kept remembering Bobby Jr.’s salient understatement: ”Daddy, this isn’t Def Comedy Jam.” Like I said before, from the mouths of babes…

What do you think? Is the show entertainingly outrageous or tiresomely so? How much of the real family dynamic do you think we’re seeing? And what were your highlights and lowlights?

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