''Being Bobby Brown'': Whitney's Mother's Day
”Being Bobby Brown”: Whitney’s Mother’s Day
Am I the only one experiencing symptoms of a reality-TV version of Stockholm syndrome when it comes to Whitney Houston?
I recognize she’s the terrifying she-beast of Being Bobby Brown, a woman so focused on having her every whim catered to that she lashes out against her husband, her pre-teen daughter, pretty much every person she encounters, with alarming frequency and unpredictability. If half the drama of reality television is in the editing, the producers of Being Bobby Brown probably don’t have to work very hard to cast Whitney in such an unflattering light. Not when the sight of her only child, romping with her cousins in relatively low-key fashion in a hotel pool, prompts Whitney to flee the scene, start puffing on a cigarette, and declare to her husband and brother-in-law, ”The kids are scary. The kids scare me. They’re like, y’know, jumping, playing, water splashing.” In other words, God forbid kids act like kids when they’re in the presence of a superstar.
Yet as much as I recognize how wrong she is on so many levels, I kinda love the Whitney Houston of Being Bobby Brown. Or at least love to hate her. Or can’t take my eyes off her. Or something. After five episodes of this show, I’m not really sure how I feel anymore. All I know is Being Bobby Brown suffers badly whenever Whitney’s not on screen.
Part of the problem is Bobby, a man who, regardless of how you feel about him, no longer possesses a compelling TV persona. People mistake him for Usher, for Puff Daddy, for just some guy at the mall. And deep down, he knows it. That’s why he needs to resort to such made-for-TV antics as trying to cook a Mother’s Day breakfast for his wife at a hotel buffet table (scorching some crunchy-encrusted French toast while grinding his hips into the pan), or talking to the camera about his ”sexiness” as he’s trying on an outfit before dinner, or inexplicably performing cartwheels (very poorly, I might add). Bobby has tasted celebrity, and he wants to get back in the banquet line. The results are not pretty, as when Bobby takes control of a golf cart at a swank country club and promptly crashes it into another vehicle; you almost feel he mapped out such ”wacky hijinks” with the show’s producers weeks before executing them.
Whitney, on the other hand, embraces the signature line of the series’ theme song: ”It’s just me.” You can see her exasperation bubble to the surface every time Bobby tries to create tension in an effort to get some airtime. Like when he books a weekend getaway for Whitney for Mother’s Day, then invites his brother, his sister’s kids, and (from the looks of it) at least a few other relatives to join them. ”That’s not Mother’s Day, that’s like Hell Day,” Whitney says, glowering. And later, she fumes, the weekend is called ”Mother’s Day, not All Everybody Else Day.” In moments like that, as much as you want Whitney to just be gracious and grateful to have a weekend at Chateau Elan — something that most moms will never have the opportunity to experience — you can also imagine how annoying it must be to have a camera crew in your house because your spouse is making a last-ditch effort to reclaim his spot at the top of the pop charts. Worse still when he abandons daughter Bobbi Kristina to go wine shopping, prompting Whitney to tell their daughter, ”I’m gonna f— him up for leaving you alone in that cart.” As dulled as she is by whatever has weighed her down, the woman who riveted us all with ”How Will I Know?” and The Bodyguard is still kicking, even if she’s just beneath the surface.
What’s more, Whitney’s still sharp enough to know that French toast shouldn’t be oversoaked in egg. And when it is, there’s only one thing you can say: Hell to the no! If that makes me identify with the devil, then I guess I’m at least a little bit guilty.
What do you think? Do you identify with Whitney at all? Or are you more on the side of her husband and daughter? Are any of them sufficiently compelling to make you stick around for a sixth episode?