Glama, Lama, Drama...
Glama, Lama, Drama
On ''Being Bobby Brown,'' the family
jets off for a spending spree in London, where Bobby traumatizes his
daughter and meets his fans and the Dalai Lama
by Michael Slezak
Poor Bobbi Kristina!
Whew. I just had to get that off my chest. I mean, it's one thing to go
through your awkward phase; it's entirely another to have it broadcast on
basic cable — especially when your high-strung parents discuss your choice
in clothing, your weight, and their own sex lives in wildly unfiltered
As Bobbi Kristina's mother might say, hell to the no!
Not to come down on Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston as the world's worst
parents. Even in the most uncomfortable moments of Being Bobby Brown — Bobby
making drunkenly vague threats toward his wife, Bobby and Whitney performing
a bump-and-grind routine for Bobbi Kristina's videocam, Whitney and her
daughter repeatedly waving their dismissive hands right up in Bobby's face —
you can't deny the couple's obvious affection for their daughter, or for
each other. But if you're going to make a play for career rehabilitation by
letting a camera crew record your lives, wouldn't it be better to have the
cameramen press the pause button when your kid's in the room?
For example, this week's low point (perhaps less graphic but far more
disturbing than the ''doodie bubble'' conversation) found the Brown-Houston
clan arguing at the Harrods department-store lunch counter in London. Sure,
Bobby couldn't have been more annoying acting like a 9-year-old and begging
for Whitney and Bobbi Kristina's attention, but his wife's icy reprimand
proved downright disturbing: ''We don't say s--- to you,'' Whitney growled,
without a hint of humor. ''Deal with it, Bobby. Deal with it.'' Um, hi,
Whitney? Your daughter, er, did you notice she's right there on the stool
next to you?
Or how about Whitney picking out clothes for Bobbi Kristina, only to have
Bobby point out said outfits were too small to fit their daughter's adorably
round frame — leading to a discussion about the various advantages and
disadvantages of the Brown and Houston genetic codes? Let's hope Bobbi
Kristina picked up one of her parents' recessive genes for sensitivity.
Sure, the kid was out of earshot for the conversation, but how will she feel
when she inevitably catches this episode during one of its 217 airings on
Bravo this month?
By airing footage like this, Whitney and Bobby not only guarantee massive
future therapy bills for their daughter but also rob her of the chance to
make a quick buck with a Mommie Dearest tell-all 30 years from now. Why buy
the book when we've already witnessed the reality show, right?
It's a shame, too, because when Bobbi Kristina is allowed to live her life
off camera, Being Bobby Brown is a mildly amusing way to kill a half-hour.
This week's opening scene, with Bobby trying on the most ostentatious
diamond-encrusted Bulgari timepiece ever created, defined the couple's
amusing dynamic, particularly when Whitney stopped the sale with a single
dismissive look and the following observation: ''It looks like a woman's
watch. A female watch.''
On his own, too, Bobby proves a genuine, unscripted (if not entirely
coherent) presence. Seeing him stumble through a chance encounter with the
Dalai Lama — '' Mr. Lama! Mr. Lama!'' — and finally play his trump card,
pointing out that he's Whitney Houston's husband, in a bid to win mutual
recognition came off as hilarious, rather than sad, because Bobby's in on
the laughs. Unlike, say, Lisa Kudrow's character on The Comeback, Bobby
knows this reality show is all he's got — and, as an entertainer, he
realizes he's got to play an outsize version of himself to keep his audience
coming back for more.
The funny thing is, Bobby's larger-than-life vibe affects almost everyone
around him. You can tell Whitney wants to hold back much of the time, but
the performer in her can't help trying to match her husband. Security
guards, fans at an impromptu barbecue, and even Harrods owner Mohamed
al-Fayed get in on the act, too, the latter strangely offering Bobby a dose
of ''Egyptian Viagra'' that he promises will help Bobby achieve an
Heck, even Mr. Lama pauses for a moment before escaping the cameras. I'm not
sure what that says about the spiritual leader or today's TV-obsessed
society, but I know that I'll probably tune in next week — even if a big
part of me doesn't want to.
NEWSFILE: 11 JULY 2005