The buzzed-about R. Kelly docuseries is officially out in the world and already making an impact.
Surviving R. Kelly, which chronicles years of abuse and pedophilia claims against the R&B singer, broke ratings records for Lifetime when the first episode premiered on Jan. 3. The debut garnered 1.9 million total viewers, marking the network’s best performance in more than two years in all key demos.
Among adults 18-49, Nielsen Media Research counts 1.1 million tuned in. Among the 25-54 demographic, 1.2 million viewers watched. The total number also includes 837,000 women between the ages of 25 and 54, as well as 767,000 women between the ages of 18 and 49.
It was also a big night for the docuseries on social media with more than 743,000 total interactions across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, according to Nielsen Social Content Ratings. That makes Surviving R. Kelly Lifetime’s largest social premiere of any series or movie in the network’s history.
Featuring more than 50 interviews across six installments, the project dives into Kelly’s controversial history.
A videotape widely circulated in 2002 appeared to show Kelly urinating on an underage girl. Though both subjects denied they were portrayed in the tape, Kelly was charged with possession of child pornography. In the end, a jury found him not guilty. Numerous women have since come forward, all with similar claims of physical abuse.
The first episode featured accounts from singer Jovante Cunningham, who said she witnessed Kelly having sex with Aaliyah Haughton on a tour bus in the ’90s when she was underage. Haughton died in a plane crash in 2011 when she was 22, but her mother came forward after PEOPLE published the allegation to refute the claim. Cunningham stands by her account.
While Kelly has yet to respond to EW’s most recent requests for comment, he denied the accusations in the past and TMZ reported he threatened to sue Lifetime if the network went ahead with airing the docuseries. Come what may, there’s no turning back now.
“We wanted irrefutable evidence,” executive producer dream hampton told EW. “Without leading any of these women, they all had the exact same stories, even if their interactions with R. Kelly were 15 years apart. All of them have stories about being physically abused, being videotaped without consent, being denied food or bathroom privileges as a punishment. All of them have stories about rules that were established early on.”
The final episode of Surviving R. Kelly airs tonight (Jan. 5) at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Encore marathons of all six-hours will air Sunday, Jan. 6 at 10 a.m. on Lifetime and at 6 p.m. on LMN, as well as Friday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. on Lifetime.