It’s the 40th anniversary of the Jackson 5, and what better way to jump into the 21st century than to have a reality show? Yes, the first episode of The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty aired last night on A&E.
As much as I think the Jackson family should sit down and be still, the Jacksons’ reality show—featuring Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and Marlon in the wake of their brothers’ death—is set to be my new guilty pleasure. There’s a fair amount of drama—Jackie and Jermaine still having cat fights and running home to tell mama; Jermaine feeling like he’s an A-list celebrity; and the brothers constantly bickering over what is the “Jackson sound.” Will they successfully complete a “comeback” album? Who knows? Who cares?
If anything, I’ll probably only be watching for two reasons: Jermaine’s prima donna ways—he didn’t show up for a photo shoot, but then proceeded to have a solo interview. And Tito’s one-liners—“It’s Tito time now,” he says, with a Charlie Chaplinesque hat—in an assortment of colors—atop his head. “You guys sound like the Supremes in there,” he says, as Jermaine, Marlon and Jackie lay tracks for their first studio album in over 20 years. And it’s clear that the brothers are still dealing with decades of family drama. Several of the stories that they tell are all too familiar—Tito playing Joseph’s guitar, Jermaine’s drama after he married Hazel, Joseph’s live-by-the-switch, die-by-the-switch rules. In parts of the premiere, it felt like a remake of The Jacksons: An American Dream.
The premiere was a two-hour special and couldn’t hold my attention past the first hour. I changed the channel when they played the 9-11 call from the day of Michael’s death. It was a stark realization that Michael’s gone and that his brothers decided that the show must go on. That’s something that even the biggest reality-television fan can’t understand.