Glama, Lama, Drama...

[From Entertainment Weekly]

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 fashion.

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 ''immediate erection.''

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
 

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