'The Houstons: On Our Own': detached from Whitney Houston, unemotional

Billy Watson, Bobbi Kristina, Gary Michael Houston and

Billy Watson, Bobbi Kristina, Gary Michael Houston and Pat Houston sing together in the all-new Lifetime series, "The Houstons: On Our Own," premiering on Lifetime. (Credit: Lifetime)

THE SHOW "The Houstons: On Our Own"

WHEN | WHERE Wednesday night at 9 on Lifetime

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Whitney Houston died Feb. 11, and this unscripted series picks up the lives of some members of her immediate family -- most notably daughter Bobbi Kristina ("Krissy") and sister-in-law and manager Pat Houston -- three months after her death. The two-part launch tonight is largely concerned with the standoff between Pat and Bobbi Kristina over her boyfriend (now fiance), Nick Gordon. His relation to her is a matter of much dispute here -- some say he was adopted by the Houston family; he insists he never was, and that he and Krissy were pals for years before they started dating. Nevertheless, no one is happy about the relationship, including Whitney Houston's mother, Cissy, her brother, Gary, and most of all Pat, who says Whitney "entrusted me to take care of everything dear to her, especially Bobbi Kristina."

MY SAY High on the list of reasons not to star in a reality show are A) it's a terrible way to parent a teenager and B) It's an even worse way to honor someone who recently died. "On Our Own" attempts both, and (naturally) backfires, but let's give Pat the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe she saw this as a way to establish a trust fund for Bobbi Kristina, or maybe to keep her under close watch in the months following her mother's death.

With cameras around every corner, no time to misbehave, right? But no time to grieve or honor someone you just lost, either. Pat also understandably wants to portray herself as a sober guardian, mindful of her important new role, but instead comes off as cold and controlling. Bobbi Kristina, sometimes reaching for any open bottle within reach, treats her like she's buzzkill. "It's very difficult to deal with her sometimes," sighs Pat, "because the world is so involved with what we do." And how is it, Pat, that a 14-part unscripted series makes that any easier?

BOTTOM LINE A few emotional moments -- most notably graveside ones -- otherwise cool, self-aware and almost completely detached from the only reason this is on the air: Whitney Houston.

GRADE C-

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