Eight months after Whitney Houston’s tragic death at the Beverly Hilton on the eve of the Grammy Awards, Lifetime tonight is introducing a show focused on the Houston family members as they grapple with her death.
In an interview from her home in Alpharetta, sister-in-law and Whitney’s manager Patricia Houston, an executive producer of ‘The Houstons: On Our Own,” deflected criticism that the show exploits Whitney’s death for their gain. She said the family has tried several reality shows over the years but nothing had gotten to air – until this one.
Then again, the only reason this series exists is because Whitney is dead, similar to the short-lived A&E series in 2009 about the Jackson brothers after Michael died that lasted only six episodes.
“Cameras have been on us for many years,” Patricia said. “We’re a strong family…The public knows about us. It’s nothing new, nothing new at all. It just shows what the Houstons are all about. The family continues to spend life on their own even after the passing of Whitney. If there are unanswered questions about the family, you’ll see who we are, the people she was around. You’ll see our interests. She was the icon of the family but other family members had their own respective careers outside of music.”
Ultimately, she said, “I think what Whitney would want is for all of us to honor her in her passing and continue to build her legacy and take care of her daughter. That’s what I intend to do. Navigate this young woman and help her with life management skills as I would any young woman.”
That 19-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, has been a major focus of the tabloids since her mother’s death. And she’s the most electric presence on the reality show itself, based on the first episode, which I’ve screened.
The series begins during Mother’s Day weekend, about three months after Houston died. The family visits Whitney’s mother in New Jersey and they go to see Houston’s gravesite.
We also meet Nick Gordon, a family friend, who Whitney took in while he was in high school. But he is annoyed that the tabloids twisted their relationship around. “I was never adopted, nor was I her brother,” he said. “We just care about each other.”
“We were best friends a long time ago and now I’m in love with him,’ she said. “It’s not incest. You can take my word for it.”
Bobbi Kristina was close to Whitney so she is truly grieving: “I have to learn to live life without her,” she told Patricia.
“I have to prove to the world that I’m my own person,” she later told the cameras, including pursuing her own music career.
Later, you find out whether Nick and Bobbi Kristina (who is nicknamed Krissy) get engaged and what Patricia’s reaction is. Plus, Patricia worries about Bobbi Kristina’s drinking, a problem her mother had.
Lifetime will air 14 episodes, two a week, over seven weeks.
I wanted to ask her a question about the financial state of Whitney’s estate but the publicist said we were out of time and I couldn’t get that last question in.
“The Houstons: On Our Own”
9 p.m., Wednesdays, Lifetime