The Jacksons: 5 Red flags that make viewers wonder if the show is staged

Oct 17, 2015 at 11:31 a.m. ET
Image: Lifetime

Lifetime's The Jacksons: Next Generation was billed as a docudrama when it was rolled out as part of the network's fall lineup. But as the show goes on, it's looking more and more like the stage has been set.

When The Jacksons: Next Generation premiered on Lifetime, viewers touted the show's authenticity, loving the fact that the Jackson family was so open, so raw. And the way the Jacksons broke the fourth wall and talked to the cameras, that was icing on the ever-so-perfectly decorated cake. So it was almost refreshing tuning in to watch what seemed to be a relatable family living their daily lives, putting their glittered gloves on one hand at a — well, on one hand — just like everyone else.

But as the show goes on, fans are starting to see that The Jacksons: Next Generation is looking less and less like their own families and more like any other reality TV show, where "reality" is whatever they make it. Here are just a few of the red flags that leave us wondering.

A season of firsts

Not only was it the first time TJ Jackson took time to do something special for Frances, his wife and the mother of his four children, but it was during filming that the men decided to start doing an annual camping trip in order to bond — sitting around the campfire and talking about all of the ways the Jackson family is wonderful and why the world should be forever grateful to them all. (Did they really try to take credit for twerking?)

More: The Jacksons: Next Generation debuts a grown-up Prince Michael Jackson

Jacksons at camp
Image: Lifetime

Keeping Up with the Kardashians... over and over again

In case you didn't hear that hefty name-drop in the first episode, TJ Jackson made sure that everyone knew he dated Kim Kardashian in high school by the second episode of the series. By the third episode, not only were fans ready to sanctify Kim for helping the Jackson family, but two more Kardashians — Kourtney and Kris Jenner — were making appearances, and audiences were again reminded that the families have close ties, that Kris Jenner has no filter (when it pays not to) and, oh, that TJ and Kim dated in high school.

More: The Jacksons: What did Kim Kardashian know about the missing Jackson memorabilia?

Kris Jenner
Image: Lifetime

Now we remember the memorabilia

In the second episode — or the second time TJ mentioned that he dated Kim Kardashian, however you're keeping track of the show — the men were introduced to a fan who had an amazing (read: creepy) collection of Jackson memorabilia that he acquired years ago when it was auctioned off. It was Kim who connected TJ with the gentleman, letting TJ know there was a possibility that the family could get the lost heirlooms back. While everyone thanked Kim for helping out her friends (and ex-boyfriend — because they dated once), it wasn't made clear when Kim actually committed this random act of kindness, which left people scratching their heads. How long was TJ holding on to that information before surprising his brothers? Was he waiting for the right time, meaning the time when the cameras would be around?

About that chick who's been claiming she's a Jackson...

Another question of timing and authenticity was during episode "third mention of the Kardashian family," when TJ, Taj and Taryll made the decision to track down the woman who has, for years, claimed to be their sister; saying that her mother had an affair with Tito Jackson. Noting that their aunts and uncles never bothered with such rumors, but saying that they did so to protect the family name, the men sought out Ms.Tanay Jackson, cameras in tow, to confront her and find out why she continues to tell people that they're siblings.

A funny thing happened on the way to the DNA test...

When they finally meet up with Tanay and she gives them seemingly legit info that supports her claims, it appears that the guys only planned to speak with her to get to the bottom of things. It's Tanay who suggested a DNA test. And who doesn't love a televised DNA test, right? (Right, Khloé Kardashian?)

More: Klhoé Kardashian and Lamar Odom timeline: 12 times she stood by his side

Well, as it turns out, Tanay Jackson doesn't love a televised DNA test. Because, after a random (wink, wink) run-in with Uncle Jermaine Jackson as they were walking into the testing facility, Tanay started feeling ill. Rightfully so, because... really? Jermaine Jackson was just wandering by when they landed in L.A. from New York City?

Once she rebounded, Tanay went to Taj, whispering in his ear, asking if it would be OK if they kept the test results private, just between the four of them.

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We'd like to say that that was pretty telling, but it looks like there won't be any official telling until next week's episode, when the results are revealed.

Jacksons
Image: Lifetime

They're the Jacksons

It may be somewhat disappointing to see the same reality TV antics, but what viewers seem to have forgotten when delving into this "docudrama" is the reason that we're delving into it to begin with. It's the Jackson family. New generation, yes, but as TJ has stated several times in the show's few episodes — Did you hear that he dated Kim Kardashian? — as a Jackson, there are certain things you just know. It's part of what they're taught and who they are. Perfection is expected. Cameras are always watching. Everything is always a show, a production filled with drama. Is that drama being controlled? For that, maybe we should ask Janet. Ms. Jackson, if ya nasty!

Do you think The Jacksons: Next Generation is "raw" or "routine" in the realm of reality TV?

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