'The Houstons: On Our Own' Reeks Of Exploitation
Following the tragic death of beloved songstress Whitney Houston, scores of fans mourned her passing and celebrated the lives she touched, especially of those closest to her. The Lifetime series premiere of The Houstons: On Our Own not only sheds light on the family that stood behind the pop icon, but also shows the down-to-earth aspects of regular people struggling to move on after the death of a loved one. Yet, what is supposed to be hidden under an umbrella of cathartic release through television translates into the worst possible way to deal with loss. It becomes evident that it is in poor taste and judgment to display the healing process in the most public way. This time should be private for the Houstons to quell their grief. Many critics are shouting out “too soon!” Low viewership ratings confirm it is indeed.
The series gives us an inside look into the pop icon’s close-knit family, steeped in deep spiritual values. Featured family patriarch Cissy Houston lingers in the background and disapprovingly watches as her granddaughter Bobbi Kristina spirals out of control. Barely of drinking age, she often knocks back a few glasses on camera and desperately finds support in her close friend of many years, Nick Gordon. He becomes a lover and eventually whirlwinds himself into her fiancé. At present, Bobbi is left under the watchful eye of Aunty Pat, Whitney’s sister-in-law, manager and current overseer of her estate. She voices her concerns on camera, wanting “Krissy” to stand on her own two feet as a young woman navigating her way through life. To this end, Pat fashions a girls’ weekend getaway for Krissy, but the young couple is soon reunited as Nick tricks the uncles into driving up to see the ladies.
Though at times it becomes a bit uncomfortable to watch as Whitney’s daughter appears to lose her way, the tone of an honest struggle and sincere emotions is evident. Without the guidance of her mother, Bobbi Kristina begins to make poor decisions as far as her life path is concerned. She seems to be separating herself from the family and attaching herself to her fiancé. In addition, she often tends to slur her words and displays some odd behavior. It’s still unclear if this is her natural speed and manor of talking or if she is sipping on the happy sauce. In hindsight, her vernacular reminds us of her father Bobbi Brown, who has developed a speech mannerism similar to an inebriated individual.
The Houstons is a show that sadly has exploitation written all over it. Although some may see it as cathartic release, it still remains the wrong venue to be utilized for grieving. It is much too soon to be filming such a candid subject on national television. A year or two after, when emotional wounds aren’t so fresh and feelings aren’t as raw, would suffice. Instead, Houston’s death took place early this February, taping commenced later that March and featured Bobbi Kristina struggling with the first mother’s day spent without her mother. A “shame on you” to both the network and consenting parties is in order. It becomes heart wrenching as she stoops down at the grave site as her boyfriend holds her and she cries almost in disbelief of her reality. In essence, the concept holds a much appreciated premise but, ethically speaking, it just doesn’t sit well. The show seems way too intrusive and seems to be a bad call for all parties involved. Nevertheless, viewers will watch, if not for the reoccurring antics of Bobbi Kristina, then for the desired redemption of this lost young lady.
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