I understand why Mel B. thinks that her life makes for a good reality TV show. Look at all the other second-tier celebs—Kirstie Alley, Tori Spelling, Anna Nicole Smith—who've made a go at a "just follow me around!" series. Plus, execs at the Style channel obviously found Mel B. and her family—husband Stephen Belafonte and daughters Phoenix, 11, and Angel, 3—compelling enough to give it a try. The network's premiering her show, Mel B.: It's a Scary World on Sunday, September 5 at 9 p.m. ET.
Alas, the truth is that not every notable name in Hollywood ought to be headlining a reality show. Mel B. is unquestionably likable, and not at all scary or tough like her Spice Girls persona. In fact, she's surprisingly vulnerable, openly expressing her insecure feelings about her appearance, her relationships and her career choices. This makes her all the more winning; you find yourself rooting for her. Unfortunately, there's just not enough going on in her life to merit a camera crew 24/7. Or even, 24/1.
Mel B.'s calling card—Spice Girlhood—is formidable. But in the decade since the group disbanded, her most press-worthy claim to fame has been a tabloid scandal involving her ex-boyfriend, Eddie Murphy. (Mel B. claimed she was carrying his child, he denied it, and a court-mandated DNA test proved she was right.) In the first episode of Scary World, Mel B. acknowledges that since then, Murphy has had some low-key visits with his daughter, Angel. Then she receives an invitation for the family to attend Murphy's Shrek Forever After premiere.
Deciding whether or not to attend the event sends Mel B. into a tizzy. "Do I really want to go so public when everything's been so quiet and so behind closed doors so far?" she asks. "Do I want to be on a red carpet yet again, entertaining everybody else's world? Like, 'Oh we're a happy family, and oh, Eddie's back in her life?'"
It's hard to imagine Murphy fretting over this decision. The situation feels like a molehill—one that doesn't deserve to be made into mountain. Is Mel B. making it into one for the sake of reality TV drama? It seems that way.
Another problem Mel B wrestles with: Should she take a guest spot in The Pussycat Dolls burlesque stage show? "Even though I'm a performer, and I love being on stage, maybe I'm passed those days dancing half naked on stage with the Pussycast Dolls," says Mel B, who's about to turn 35. This, too, seems a little contrived, because Mel B.'s still in great shape. As the Pussycat Dolls founder tells her, "You look amazing. I mean you're gorgeous and sexy, and this is the time for you to be doing it."
"I want to prove to myself that I have still got it," she tells the camera. And later, in nicely scripted denouement, she nails the performance. "Performing with the burlesque revue felt pretty damn good," she says. "And you know what? I still got it." How unsurprising.
Mel B.'s husband, Stephen, is goofy and eager to please, and the childlike fun they have together is one of the show's sweet spots. Recent gossip column reports that the two are heading for a split seemed suspiciously timed, coinciding as they are with the show's premiere. But a feigned break-up wouldn't be a shocker. Mel B. seems willing to try anything to make her life appear more interesting than it is.
Are you interested in the daily challenges of Mel B., or is there another former Spice Girl you'd prefer to watch? Chime in below!
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