Its been a week since The New Edition Story premiered and it was actually a lot better than I thought it would be.
The three-part, biographical mini-series documents New Edition’s rise to fame as five little boys from Roxbury, MA to the very successful group of men that they are today. With each part being 2 hours long and spread throughout three days, there was quite a bit of detail and information about the group members and about the entertainment industry.
New Edition is from my mother’s generation, so, while I am familiar with a few of their songs, I didn’t know much about them, as a group. As I stated earlier, the story was split into three parts and each part covered different parts of NE’s journey.
Part one, started with the group’s inception. The boys (Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown and Ralph Tresvant) were the only members of the group until they were given advice from popular record producer, Maurice Starr, to add a fifth member. This was how Ronnie DeVoe, their manager, Brooke Payne’s nephew, entered the group. From here, we were also showed NE’s rise to fame and the unfortunate money problems that they experienced.
In response to said money problems, the boy’s mothers ended up firing Brooke and hiring another manager, Gary Owens, in hopes of getting a better handle on the group’s finances. This part ends on a bad note because some tension was starting to form amongst the group.
Part two picks up where part one left off: with tension forming in the group. A fight ensues between two group members. However, things are quickly smoothed out and they move on. The guys are introduced to a new choreographer who they weren’t feeling, so to smooth out the situation, Gary brings Brooke, their old manager, back to help with the choreography.
This is when Bobby starts spiraling out of control. He’s arrested for speeding with no license, gotten one of his girls pregnant and it’s later revealed that he’s doing drugs. While Gary faults him for his many mishaps, his group members don’t. They tell him that they all have their vices, but, unlike him, they keep them under wraps. Case in point, Ralph’s girlfriend was actually pregnant during this time, but he kept it a secret.
In addition to a bunch of other things, their financial issues are still present. The group and their mothers still aren’t seeing the amount of money that they were expecting to see and Gary is, of course, blaming it on the boys. Bobby is still out of control, which eventually leads to him being kicked out of the group. Fast forward a couple scenes and Mike ends up finding out what their manager, Gary, was really up to.
While the group is continuing to perform without Bobby, he is eventually offered a solo deal with MCA. Mike ends up meeting with Gary. He brings a lawyer and I’m assuming that he fired Gary because that was the last time we saw him. The group members meet at Ralph’s house to discuss their future and Ralph lets them know that he would like to go solo. He’s recorded some music and he lets them all hear it. However, the guys get upset and the meeting ends on a sour note.
Mike brings an old friend, Johnny Gill, into the mix without letting Ralph know. That causes a ton of tension, but Ralph and Johnny end up talking and bonding over shared experiences and the beef is squashed. Everything’s going good until it’s revealed that Bobby will be included in their next tour, which brings up to part three.
Part three picked up where part two left off: the tour. Everything is going good. NE’s set is after Bobby’s and their all performing and making their fans happy. At a celebration that was thrown to honor everyone’s success, Ricky, Ronnie and Mike were given the advice from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to start their own group venture. This is where Bell Biv DeVoe (BBD) was born.
About a year later, the group gets together for an interview with Sherry Carter and, in addition to New Edition updates, they discuss their solo ventures as well. They spent most of the time one upping one another, but it was interesting to see the music videos from their solo songs.
Six years later, the group gets back together for another album. At the photoshoot for the album cover, it’s clear that a couple of the members are not in a good space. We see Ricky take two pills and Bobby may or may not have been under the influence of something since he couldn’t keep his eyes open. We also see that they are all over spending. Brooke reveals that none of their albums succeeded and that they’re all in debt, which explains why they agreed to do another NE album.
Tension is steady rising while on tour. Bobby is missing interviews and performances. However, they make it through that part of the tour and we move on to Ricky’s drug abuse. His wife almost catches him snorting cocaine, but he brushes her off and she lets it go.
Back on tour and everything finally comes to head after Bobby takes it upon himself to go over his set time. Ronnie has finally had enough and he interrupts Bobby, which leads to a fight between the guys and their entourages. Brooke leaves the scene in disappointment and suffers a heart attach. Ronnie finds his uncle and yells for help. When he tries to get in the ambulance he is told that he cannot go and immediately lashes out. While everyone tries to calm him down, Bobby arrives. Ronnie charges Bobby because he blames him for Brooke’s current state. Bobby being Bobby says some egotistical crap that leads to everyone going their separate ways.
Years pass and everyone is doing their own thing. They are all struggling in their own way, but they’re still trying to move forward with their lives, but it’s Ronnie’s wedding that brings them back together. They make peace with the past and agree to move forward. However, while singing at the wedding a producer from BET gets the idea to have them perform at their 25th Anniversary special.
Fast forward to that performance and they kill it!
Overall, this was a great series and my mother and I, both, learned a few things. She told me that she didn’t know that Ricky had a drug problem and, now that I think about it, I actually heard quite a few people say that they weren’t aware of that, so it was nice to learn something that wasn’t already public knowledge.
I think the only reason why we got that type of access was because the members of New Edition were actually involved in the production of these films. There are so many biopics that I’ve watched where the subject of these films wasn’t apart of it. A couple examples are: 1. The Aaliyah biopic (2014); 2. The Whitney Houston biopic (2015) and 3. The Britney Spears biopic, which hasn’t aired yet. All three of these movies were/are being produced without consulting the star. I know Aaliyah and Whitney were both deceased by the time their biopics aired, but it would’ve been nice to get their families involved and, from what I hear about Britney’s biopic, she doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.
But anyway, the acting and full length musical performances were also great. I think I read somewhere that the actors spent weeks in a training camp, with the original members of New Edition, where they learned to move and dance like them. I’m really glad that that happened because it makes it all the more authentic. Plus, it really paid off. The steps and uniformity of, both, the young and older actors were on point and I was very impressed.
Also, this has nothing to do with the series, but I just have to mention how my mom reacted while watching this. As soon as “Candy Girl” came on she snapped right back to her middle/high school days. She was singing that song (and every one after) word for word. She even knew the steps to a few of them. Watching this series was extremely nostalgic for her and it also made me realize just how big NE actually was. Also, the fact that the series brought in over 29 million viewers proves how many people they touched.
What’s amazing to me is how they all ended up right back in New Edition. Usually, after a group dismantles the members rarely ever reconnect again, especially if you’ve acquired success as a solo artist. I guess it’s kind of an ego thing. Once you’ve made it on your own, why go back to being one of many when you know what it’s like to be the head honcho? However, in this case, I guess you can argue that even though they had some success solo, it never really overpowered the success that they had as a group.
BET’s New Edition Story gets a A++ from me, so if you haven’t seen it, you need to. You won’t regret it. However, if you have seen it, let me know your thoughts. Also, if you have one, let me know what your favorite New Edition song is/was?
A Little Extra: Bobby Brown was a nightmare! He was all over the place. They all had the patience of a saint because there is no way that I would’ve continued to stand up for him, especially when he continually put my livelihood in jeopardy. I’m sorry, but he would’ve had to GO!