It goes without saying that the Judd family has quite a history. The roller-coaster mother-daughter relationship/career of Naomi and Wynonna Judd has long been fodder for tabloid gossip, as well as a near-record number of appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Both women (as well as youngest Judd Ashley, who released a negatively revealing biography this week) have brought their darkest moments to light many times over the past few decades.
And, true to form, the debut episode of Wynonna and Naomi's new reality show on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) gives up plenty of the down-and-dirty stuff. The program, which debuts Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, provides a look at the star duo as they prepare to embark on their first tour together in more than 10 years.Although Wynonna is quick to state that she and her mother are totally opposite personalities, it becomes clear to anyone who's ever watched the pair on Oprah that they are--of course--actually too alike for comfort. Both are fiercely dominant, stubborn, and dramatic to a fault.
They take turns firing off quotable quotes, one after another (a classic example: "In my short life, I've had a lot of experience hitting rock bottom"). Wynonna can cry with her mother one minute, then roll her eyes at her like an exasperated teenager the next. Meanwhile, Naomi will hug her daughter gently, then face her with a such an irritating, steely-eyed expression that one can forgive Wy's adolescent-like behavior. One of the stipulations of doing the tour? That their longtime, shared therapist go on the road with them.
Dramatics aside, the show does not rely on the classic reality technique of cutting from snappy moment to snappy moment. It does touch on genuinely personal topics, both happy and sad. Each woman has her own raw revelations, which admittedly slow down the pace a bit, but are necessary to provide depth to what would otherwise be simply an endless round of mother-daughter headbutting.
Wynonna discusses the realities of rebuilding life after her devastating divorce--introducing her new boyfriend, as well as addressing the positive but confusing aspect of starting a relationship in one's late 40s. ("How does one date at this age?" she muses, while simultaneously cuddling with her man on her front porch.)
Meanwhile, Naomi offers very little outright joy to viewers, instead choosing to tackle her worst demons. Her attitude throughout the program is resolute. She reveals a damaging childhood secret she's never told anyone, then continues on an inward path attempting to find out what truths she's pushed away from herself over her life in the name of self-defense. "At 65, I'm still figuring things out," she admits. This confession somehow manages to be simultaneously pitiful and energizing.
For fans of the Judds' music who are hoping to get a preview of how the pair are sounding together prior to hitting the road--the show only offers a few brief performance snippets. In a way, this is beneficial to the show's purpose overall, since the centerpiece of the series--the comeback tour--is referred to repeatedly as "A second chance" by both women.
And, that's pointedly presented as not a second chance at career success. They've proven themselves in that arena so firmly that they need never take a chance again. It's a second chance at learning to live, love, and be with each other.
And, it looks like going to take nothing less than a full season's series to get there. If they do.
Here's a preview clip of the show for you to check out for yourselves. Will you be watching the full debut on Sunday? Be sure to let me know your thoughts.
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