In theory, Mariah Carey, reality star, sounds nothing short of must-see television.
Long before Real Housewives came along, Carey offered the world various strains of grandiosity, eccentricity and lots o’ theatrics. Surely, someone who admittedly acknowledges living in her own bubble would be the perfect vehicle for a new reality series. However, Carey has been particular about making sure this show was not a reality series but a “docuseries.”
Granted, some shows actually do fit the bill of “docuseries,” given that they’re more documentary than soap opera. There’s a certain level of openness and authenticity required to make those work, though. Anything else would fall into what we know as reality TV, where, if nothing else, the manufactured drama we bear witness to is satisfying in its entertainment value.
As far as the premiere episode of Mariah’s World goes, it meets neither standard.
The show begins with Carey dressing up as Bianca Storm, the alter ego she played in the “Heartbreaker” video. Some lambs, her most dedicated fan base, might have seen Bianca and found the nod heartwarming. Other fans may likely have looked at Bianca and asked themselves, “Why are we back in 1999?”
Of course, the show proceeded to run down Carey’s stats as the biggest-selling female artist of all time with more No. 1 hits than any recording act other than the Beatles. We all knew that, but Carey will always make time to let you know who the hell she is.
Not long after, Carey tells us the story of how she came to be a professional singer. As if we haven’t heard this story numerous times over the course of 20 years. And you guessed it: She also let us know that she writes on every song she’s ever recorded.
Mariah, I adore thee, but I think we’ve got it by now. That said, it is your world. Perhaps she’s not the problem so much as my expectations are? Or not.
There are some things to appreciate about the show—namely, Carey’s confessional looks. Leave it to her to practically lounge in a nightgown while holding a glass of red wine. The other Carey constant is magnificent lightning. Carey probably has a better lighting crew than God, so she’d be damned if she was made to look anything less than spectacular on her show.
As for what one can learn from Mariah’s World, let’s start with the new understanding that the Kardashian sisters have stricter hiring practices for Dash than Mariah Carey does for anything. Her new manager, Stella Bulochnikov, was hired thanks to Carey’s friend, film director Brett Ratner. And based on reports, Bulochnikov cleaned house once she got that position—something Carey’s makeup artist notes in the series premiere.
On the show, Bulochnikov hires a young woman who doesn’t seem to know anything about assisting people, let alone assisting one of the biggest music artists in history. The end result is that part of the episode centered on this new assistant crying that she could not set up Carey’s Apple TV in her hotel suite, which Carey requires having on to sleep. As nice as it was to see one of the hotel staffers more or less tell that young woman to buck up, why was this on television? Who in the hell cares?
This show is supposed to be about Carey launching a tour and planning a wedding. Well, we already know now that the wedding plans end with a breakup, but production sure didn’t waste time planting the seeds for a backup story. Carey is reportedly dating dancer Bryan Tanaka, and their on-screen flirtation is made apparent in the premiere. Who knows if that backup storyline was planned or not, but it’s easier than ever to see that Carey’s engagement was much ado about nothing, and it’s hard to believe she cares that much about what looks like nothing more than a cute homeboy.
If you’re wondering where Carey’s manager came from, as fate and opportunity would have it, she has a background mostly in reality TV, credited on the following shows: T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle, Master P's Family Values, Paris Hilton's My New BFF and Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School.
With credits like that, one would expect Mariah’s World to be riveting. As of now, it’s kind of OK, which now leads to the question that’s hovered over the show since it was first announced: Isn’t Mariah Carey too good for reality television?
Considering that our 45th president is a sweet-potato-colored reality star, maybe no one is “too good” for the medium anymore. One thing is for certain, though: Mariah’s World doesn’t seem to live up to the standard Mariah Carey. But maybe it will get better, dahlings.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.