When "Being Bobby Brown" debuted, you had to wonder: Would this show simply be a lame attempt for a has-been to make a comeback? Or could this be the jolt that the reality television genre -- pass as last year's Christmas lights -- desperately needs?
The series begins with Brown, who's had more than his share of run-ins with the law, being released from prison in Boston for failing to pay child support. Following his release, he hangs around Beantown to spend time with La Princia and Bobby Jr., his children from a previous relationship, and it's heartwarming to see Brown genuinely enjoy the company of his kids.
Next, Brown heads back to Georgia. He and Whitney Houston, his wife of 11 years, live in Alpharetta, but perhaps to keep prying cameras out of their home, they rendezvous at their favorite plush hotel in Buckhead.
Enter Houston (stage left), a truly washed-up diva if there ever was one. Houston and Brown smother each other with kisses and exchange sensual banter before sneaking off to be alone. It's clear they indeed love each other. Besides music, they have stuff in common, like eating, shopping, more eating, spontaneously dancing through hotel lobbies, eating again, going to the spa together -- and did I mention eating? They spend a lot of time in restaurants.
The more you watch "Being Bobby Brown," the more it becomes apparent why Brown might have problems remembering to pay child support, driving sober and taking court-ordered drug tests: Houston is one high-maintenance mama. Wearing sunglasses and colorful, expensive scarves wrapped dramatically around her head, neck and shoulders in quintessential diva fashion, Ms. Houston knows how to throw a fit, and she throws them often.
While shopping at Harrod's in London, both Houston and the couple's pre-teen daughter, Bobbi Kristina, turn moody and irritable toward Brown. He good-naturedly tries to bring them around, but to no avail, so he leaves them to go "do his own thing."
On a vacation in the Bahamas, Brown and Houston are approached and pestered by fans who want pictures or autographs. Brown couldn't be more obliging, which ticks Houston off.
"Be me for a second!" she snaps, loud enough for eager picture-takers to hear. Houston is ghetto-nasty to autograph seekers' requests, and flaunts her "Hell to the no!" attitude. It's a telling moment when Brown admits in voiceover that he got into the music business to be among people, while his wife "just wants to sing."
And sing she does. Houston frequently breaks into song in the middle of conversations and joins Bobbi Kristina in sing-alongs in the back of their limo, raising the question: If singing is so important to her, why can't she get it together and revive her career?
With each show, Bobby and Whitney look more and more like that aunt and uncle in every family, the ones who've come into a little money. The wife now thinks she's too good to attend the family functions, but the husband, when he's allowed to, loves to "come out and play," telling jokes, laughing, drinking and dancing his ass off.
And apparently, Brown plays a lot. Whether in Atlanta, at nightclubs in the Bahamas or in the 'hoods of London, he finds time to go out and mingle with the regular folk. Whitney is absent from Brown's late-night outings, but he's not alone. Brother Tommy, Bobby's manager, bodyguard and dead ringer, always is on hand to keep fans from getting too close and to keep Bobby from getting into trouble.
Bottom line: I am hooked and will not miss an episode. "Being Bobby Brown" is kind of like being John Doe, except Bobby has gold records, adoring fans and money to help him cope with ... being him.
"Being Bobby Brown"
Thursday nights at 10 p.m.