TV One tonight premieres a nine-part reality series about K-Ci and Jojo Hailey, brothers from North Carolina, who embark on a program of sobriety after their lives and R & B singing careers hit the skids.
In the 90's, the two performed as one-half of Jodeci before touring and recording on their own. From the looks of episode one of "K-Ci and Jojo...Come Clean" they are not so much in demand any more.
But the story here is one of recovery -- the journey on the long road back. And while the Hailey brothers are the ones with their name in the title of the series, one of the most important figures in the show is Pastor Jamal Bryant, of the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore. The duo's agent contacts Pastor Bryant for help, and the series opens with the two singers meeting with a recovery team put together by Bryant.
The narrative that drives the series is that of the Hero Quest. And while the Hailey brothers are the heroes on the Hero Quest, Bryant is their Merlin, the guide and mentor figure who they believe can show them way out of the dark forest that their lives have become.
In tonight's opening, Bryant himself refers to their possibility that rather than continuing down a road that two members of his recovery team say often ends in death, the on-camera meeting we see could be a "road to Damascus" moment for the brothers. For those who don't know the reference, he's talking about a New Testament account of a life changing event that leads to the conversion of the person to whom it happens, Paul of Tarsus.
I have to be honest, I have issues with reality TV series that deal with such complicated and personal matters as recovery. I have major problems with almost everything that involves Dr. Drew Pinsky, for example. I view reality TV series involving performers trying to get sober with great skepticism, wondering whether this is about them wanting to recover as people or performers so they can get their careers back on track.
That said, I also acknowledge the argument used by TV performers and celebrities that lives lived badly in the public eye -- as the Hailey brothers have clearly done, according to their own testimony and what is shown in episode one -- can also be used to offer positive stories of redemption and recovery. And their celebrity, the argument goes, makes the series all the more compelling because viewers feel the cameras are revealing the private demons that previously had been hidden from the public eye.
And some viewers do find satisfaction in TV series that offers confirmation that being rich and famous isn't as great as it looks on the cover of People magazine or an interview on Entertainment Tonight -- once you drill down to what's going on inside the celebrities' heads and behind closed doors in their fabulous homes.
Bottom line, given all the factors involved in the way reality TV series can skew what we see and don't see onscreen, I would never endorse or denounce any such show as revealing or distorting the truth of an experience as profound as that of recovery. So, I am doing neither here. I am simply telling you a little bit about this series that features a Baltimore pastor.
"K-Ci and Jojo...Come Clean" begins with two episodes at 9 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night on TV One.