And if the commercials during the show are any indication, it most definitely won’t be the last.
If BET had produced that Aaliyah biopic, maybe it would’ve made it back in one piece because the fire playing out on screen during last night’s airing of The New Edition Story, part one was everything. From the so-on-point casting to the visual editing slayage and everything in between, this long-awaited miniseries got it right. Here’s how:
1) There was a big screen-worthy group of actors to play each part.
Caleb McLaughlin (of Stranger Things fame) played young Ricky Bell, Elijah Kelley played older Ricky Bell, Bryshere Gray played older Michael Bivens, Keith Powers played older Ronnie DeVoe, and Algee Smith played older Ralph Tresvant. And then came the gang of just about every Black actor who typically stars in every Black movie: Lala Anthony, Monica Calhoun, Faizon Love, Wood Harris, and more were on deck. On 100, we were waiting for Gabrielle Union and Morris Chestnut to pop on camera like 👀. Even the new stars on the scene performed like they’d been at the game for years.
2) The authenticity was set to no chill.
For one thing, every single actor performed every single song. The lip syncing they were doing was to their own voices, not to the voices of the real Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, and Ralph. And the trillness only continued from there. The recreation of the Candy Girl single cover art? Expertly done. The blowing of that $500 advance on mopeds? Yep, happened. The fact that even though they were number one on the charts, their tour bus still dropped them off at home in the projects? Non-alternative facts.
3) The real New Edition members oversaw the filming.
Unlike Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, which was not welcomed by the family at all, every member of New Edition supported this movie — yes, even Bobby Brown. In fact, they did more than just voice their support; they signed on as executive producers, along with their first manager Brooke Payne, reports the L.A. Times.
4) This was not a rush job.
With nearly 40 years of info to cover, BET made the decision not to rush through the story. Instead, they chose to come correct by devoting six hours to it. Those six hours are divided between three consecutive, two-hour showings. Last night, part one opened up with the 1997 Home Again reunion tour. Bobby Brown had apparently been hogging all the stage time, leaving the rest of the group with just enough time to perform two songs. This ultimately leads to a backstage fight and a gunshot. Then, the story is literally rewound back in time to where it all began, giving us details about Bobby Brown’s childhood stage fright, Ralph’s love of Kung Fu, how they sang in the street for Brooke Payne, and so much more.
Black Twitter also approved. Check the tweets:
Part two is up tonight at 9 p.m. and part three will air on Thursday. Did you watch the premiere? What did you think?