Fans are divided in controversial “Surviving R. Kelly” series


Singer and Rapper R. Kelly performs onstage back in 2013 amidst multiple accusations of sexual assault, which would prompt a controversial protest among women years later.

Natalia Becsak, Staff Writer

On Jan. 3, Lifetime released the first two episodes of its all-new gut-wrenching documentary Surviving R. Kelly.  With a total of six episodes, the show exposes many aspects of R. Kelly’s life and reveals to viewers the gory details of the stories of the women he mercilessly abused.  The show violently exposes R. Kelly for his false demeanor, and also truly serves to give a voice to those who were, and are, currently being abused. 

Starting from a young age, Kelly displayed a strong passion for music.  The documentary covered his early reclusive childhood, during which he would usually spend his days sitting alone at home, teaching himself how to play the keyboard and write music.

Kelly’s self-confidence began to flourish as more and more people began to recognize his musical talent.  Their praise spurred him on as he built up his career, which officially took off after he won the talent TV-show Big Break.  From then on, his fan base exponentially grew, and, ever since, he began referring to himself as the “Pied Piper of R&B”.

Further into the series, the show portrayed how his fame was what ultimately allowed him to justify his possessive and predatory behavior as he targeted young teenage girls.  At Kenwood, he met Aaliyah, who was only 12 when she was lured in by the promise of fame and fortune. 

He wrote her first hit song “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number,” which raised suspicions of a possible relationship.  They denied all accusations, but it was later revealed that the two were sexually involved. 

Kelly used his power and reputation to assert his dominance over these young girls by treating them like objects and using them to exploit his disturbing desires with the promise of advancing their musical careers.  

Viewers also found Kelly’s love life, amidst his various sexual encounters with other women, to be of big interest.  Andrea Lee, his current ex-wife, met him when she was auditioning for his tour as a dancer.  

Before getting together, Lee described Kelly’s treatment towards his dancers and musicians as a dictatorship.  However, when their relationship bloomed, Lee described him as gentle and more lenient.  

Lee states that she was unable to see the storm approaching on the horizon when she got married to Kelly.  However, he soon reverted back to his old habits and continued to emotionally and physically abuse her for over a decade. 

Kelly constantly craves to be in the superior position in his relationships.  This aggressive type of behavior most likely derived from his traumatic past.  In his autobiography, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me, Kelly revealed that he was molested and raped by his sister Theresa from when he was seven until he was 14.

“Usually the people we trust the most are our family members, so it’s horrible how he was taken advantage of by his sister. Our families greatly influence our mannerisms and mentality, so I have no doubt this event turned him into the type of man he is today,” said senior Joyce Chen. 

Through the documentary series that recounted these traumatic events of sexual assault, the show offered new insights into R. Kelly’s mindset, which was once hidden from the public eye.  Now, out of repentance, Kelly’s story has a handful of fans believing in him once again.