The New Edition Story is a Mini Series that chronicles the rise and fall of the American R&B boy band New Edition. The mini series was created and produced by BET, and overseen by all six band members, plus their longtime manager/choreographer Brooke Payne. The group's longtime producers, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, were also tapped to score the soundtrack alongside Bobby Brown's music producers L.A. Reid and Babyface.
Chronicling New Edition's lives from their first record deal with Maurice Starr to their performance at BET's 25th anniversary celebration, the series addresses the stories and urban legends about the notoriously constant in-fighting between the group's members and management, as well as the many issues with Bobby Brown (some of which were adapted from Brown's autobiography Every Little Step: My Story) and the inclusion of Johnny Gill into the group. Bobby Brown, who was still reeling from the loss of his daughter, Bobbi Kristina Houston, initially declined to be a part of the series when it went into production in 2015, but eventually decided to sign on by the next year with the rest of the group.
The mini series was highly anticipated by longtime New Edition fans, as well as newcomers curious about their history, and became BET's biggest ratings success since The Game (2006)'s fifth season (the second on BET) premier, becoming the most watched cable program for three nights in a row, with an average of 4 million viewers per episode (It also didn't hurt that it was also sandwiched in-between two other high profile biopics about black musicians that came out in theaters around the same time). The mini series also revitalized New Editon's popularity, and a new tour featuring the main cast of The New Edition Story was in the works, but more longstanding beef between the group members killed those plans.
Instead, BET and Bobby Brown released The Bobby Brown Story in 2018. Retaining most of the core cast from The New Edition Story, this two-part mini series focused on Brown after his split from New Edition, and went into more detail about the personal and legal issues he dealt with, including his infamous 14-year marriage to Whitney Houston. While it wasn't quite as successful as it's prequel, the series was still a critical success.
Tropes present in both series include:
- Auto-Tune: Very painfully obvious in Woody McClain's vocal performances, as he wasn't a trained singer, unlike most of the cast, as well as the fact that he couldn't reach the same notes Bobby Brown could in his prime.
- Broad Strokes: A necessity for both mini series. The New Edition Story downplays or flat out ignores some of Bobby Brown's more infamous incidents and his marriage in order to give equal screen time to the rest of New Edition. On the flipside, many of Bobby's issues with New Edition were glossed over in The Bobby Brown Story since most of it was already covered in the prior series.
- Historical Beauty Upgrade: Both miniseries show Bobby as still thin and in shape in the 2000s and 2010s. In real life, Bobby had started getting out of shape by 2002, and only went downhill since.
- How We Got Here: Both miniseries start out at a late part of the story, before going back to the beginning. The New Edition Story begins at the 1997 New Mexico brawl, before rewinding back to the roots of New Edition, and The Bobby Brown Story starts out as Bobby is being taken to the hospital for a drug-induced stroke, and then flashes back to his days growing up in Roxbury and goes from there.
- Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Bobby Brown, natch. Ricky Bell too, but he managed to keep his issues hidden until he finally overdosed.
- Shot-for-Shot Remake: The third episode of The New Editon Story opens with a full remake of the first verse and chorus of the “If It Isn’t Love” video, including their choreographer’s monologue and the bottom-corner video credits. The episode also features short shot-for-shot remakes of BBD's "Poison", Ralph's "Sensitivity", Bobby's "Every Little Step", and Johnny's "My, My, My". The first episode of The Bobby Brown Story features remakes of Bobby's solo hits "Girlfriend" and "My Prerogative".
Tropes present in The New Edition Story:
- Boisterous Weakling: Bobby talks a big game, but usually ends up on the receiving end of a beatdown. To drive this home, he was easily manhandled twice by Mike, even when the latter had an injured foot in the first fight.
- Bowdlerise: During the infamous Oakland show where Bobby quit the group, while singing "Mr. Telephone Man", the "Aw, sugar" line replaces the original performance's line of "Aw, shit".
- Comically Missing the Point: This happens in part two after Bobby is kicked out the band and Ralph invites the remaining members over to listen to his demo tape. They immediately dismiss his efforts although he tries to compare himself to Phil Collins and Genesisnote Ricky then exclaims that he can't be like Phil since he doesn't play the drums.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Despite having hit records and sell-out concerts, the members of New Edition lived in poverty on food stamps, while the record execs kept all the profits. This changed once they became adults.
- Disappeared Dad: None of the fathers of band members appear in the mini-series. Their mothers are the primary caregivers and the ones who negotiate their contracts.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Bobby's barber. See Traumatic Haircut below.
- Escalating Brawl: Based off the real-life brawl that took place during a New Mexico show in 1997, Bobby, who was refusing to end his solo set, was eventually kicked off stage by an extremely pissed off Ronnie Devoe. In response, Bobby, after failing to get a fire hose working to spray Bell Biv DeVoe, bumrushed the stage and got into a brawl with the group. The entourages of both groups soon got involved, and guns were pulled out, bringing an end to both the show and the tour.
- Early in the first episode, as Brooke Payne warns the young group to be united and not have one person try and outshine the whole group, the camera briefly cuts to Bobby. Bobby ultimately didn't heed Brooke's warning, and eventually tries to center the attention on himself, which costs him his (initial) membership in New Edition, and later blows up their 1997 reunion tour.
- Also in the first episode, after finding out that their sons were essentially robbed of their money, all but one of New Edition's mothers vote to kick Brooke out of his management position. Come the second episode, After an onstage brawl between Michael and Bobby, New Edition is forced to vote Bobby out of the group. This time, however, the decision was by unanimous vote.
- The Ghost: Whitney Houston is mentioned, but never actually seen. Even near the end of the third episode, where all of NE are with their spouses, Whitney's face is never shown.
- Gilligan Cut: During an interview in The New Edition Story, the group claims they are working on an album that will drop next year. The next scene begins with a Title Card that says, “Six Years Later”.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: Played with: while Bobby and Ricky both hit this hard with their respective substance issues and the former's arrests and other behavior after the huge fallout from 1997, two men in-universe believe that Ronnie hits this after seeing him sitting in a real estate training class.
- It Will Never Catch On: When the group explains to Gary that they need the DJ to play rap music in between set and costume changes, Gary quickly expresses doubt that rap will even be a thing 20 years from now.
- Kick the Dog: At one point, Mike accidentally gets his foot ran over by their limo, to which Bobby laughs at him and calls him a little bitch... to which Mike spits in his face and says, "Who's the bitch now?!" and the two of them engage in a fight.
- Nepotism: Averted. Although Ronnie was Brooke's nephew, he had to audition and prove he could hang with the rest of the lineup before officially joining.
- Read the Fine Print: New Edition's repeated neglect of not looking over their contracts properly ends up getting them screwed out of money that they're rightfully owed. After finding out that their management deceptively signed them to a production deal with MCA instead of directly with the label, Mike Bivins fires the group's manager, and helps get them a new deal with MCA. MCA boss Jheryl Busby lampshaded the situation when confronted about it, and mocked Mike and the group for not looking over their contract.Mike: Jheryl, why would he do that to us?
Jheryl: Mike, why do you think? It keeps him in control. He touches your money before you ever see it, he negotiates your contracts, your publishing, merchandising... He basically owns the group. [...] Mike, You made the mistake all artists make when they first started out: You didn't read your contract.
Mike: It doesn't matter man, he told us what the deal was—
Jheryl: He told you what the deal was! Mike, people are gonna say a whole lot of things in this business, but the only thing that matters is what's on paper, right in front of you.
Mike: He lied to us right in my living room.
Jheryl: Mr. Michael Bivins... Welcome to the music business.
- Becomes an Ironic Echo when Mike ends up saying almost the exact same words to a group that he's managing.
- Self-Serving Memory: Played with. In the aftermath of the disastrous New Mexico show, Bobby screams that his star power placed all of the members where they are, to which Johnny calls him out on, correctly pointing out that "you haven't done shit for me", as he was a star before the group and was quite successful as a solo artist (arguably more so than Bobby; not just because he wasn't a shit-stirrer continuously in trouble with the law like him, but he is clearly the stronger vocalist).
- Serendipity Writes the Plot: In-universe, as seen in Traumatic Haircut below, Bobby's distracted barber accidentally shaves off more than he should, resulting in his asymmetrical (but essentially popular) haircut.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Take a wild guess. This is reinforced further in The Bobby Brown Story, and shows how much his ego cost him.
- Sore Loser: After being kicked off of stage by Ronnie during a 1997 performance for hogging up the time of the others, Bobby tries to turn a hose on the performance of Bell Biv Devoe but is unable to make it work. He and his entourage instead engage in a wild fight culminating in a gun being fired and Brooke suffering a heart attack.
- Traumatic Haircut: In the third episode, Bobby's barber (portrayed by comedian DC Young Fly), who was too busy trying to mack at the female dancers to pay attention, ends up shaving off a large chunk of Bobby's flattop right before he was supposed to start filming the video for "Every Little Step". Words alone can't do the scene justice.
- Time-Passes Montage: The New Edition Story uses their touring performance of “Is This the End?” to transition the group from pre-teens to young adults.
Tropes present in The Bobby Brown Story:
- Casting Gag: in one scene, Bobby berates Janet Jackson for choosing a "backup dancer" over him. Woody McCain was a backup dancer for Chris Brown before being cast as Bobby Brown.
- Continuity Snarl: Bobby's father was never seen at all during The New Edition Story. Here, he makes several appearances during Bobby's story.
- Darker and Edgier: Bobby blames the failure of King of Stage on the "soft" image "Girlfriend" gave him, and decides to blend the hard hitting beats and rhymes of rap with R&B, leading him to the "King of New Jack Swing," Teddy Riley.
- Going Cold Turkey: During an extended stay in jail, Bobby is forced to go cold turkey form his drug habit, up to the point where he vomits his guts out all over the floor during the withdrawal. Unfortunately, this doesn't last, since he still had a severe alcohol addiction.
- Functional Addict: Both Bobby and Whitney until the former ends up not only having an overdose and a stroke, but is forced to go cold turkey in jail.
- Mama Bear: Bobby's mother. Lampshaded by Bobby right before he goes off to film the video for "My Prerogative":Tommy: Is that mom's brooch?
Bobby: You damn right!
Tommy: (scoffs) Nothing says "Bad Boy" like a dude who's rocking his mama's jewelry.
Bobby: (laughs) Okay, name somebody tougher than Ma.
(Beat, as Tommy fails to come up with a counter)