Though TLC reached dizzying heights of success, the R&B trio was as beleaguered as it was beloved, a story told in the new VH1 biopic CrazySexyCool. Executive produced by surviving members Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, the biopic elaborates on the group’s Behind the Music episodes, from Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ rebellious temper to T-Boz’s battle with sickle cell disease, and adds the dramatic flair that VH1 has become known for.
Drew Sidora and Keke Palmer play the roles of T-Boz and Chilli, while Lil Mama plays the late Left Eye. Former manager Perri “Pebbles” Reid is played by Rochelle Aytes and producer Dallas Austin is played by Evan Ross, while Mack 10, retired football player Andre Rison and Jodeci’s Dalvin DeGrate appear as ancillary roles.
Here are the five craziest moments from the biopic, which premiered last night.
Stage Crasher Makes Good
Lil Mama essentially became a hip-hop pariah after she stage-crashed Jay Z and Alicia Keys’ 2009 performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, so it was no surprise that casting her as Left Eye was controversial. Yet Lil Mama is undoubtedly the star of CrazySexyCool. Aside from the obvious likeness between Lil Mama and Left Eye, the youngster masters the mannerisms and physicality of TLC’s late rhymer to an almost eerie degree. Expect to do more than one double-take when watching the movie.
Some Like It Hot, but Probably Not Andre Rison
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Left Eye took her combustible relationship with NFL player Andre Rison to a literal level, when she burned down his mansion in 1994. In the movie, Left Eye flies into a rage after seeing that Rison has purchased several boxes of Nike sneakers for himself and none for her. Tired of his selfishness, she throws his shoes into the bathtub and lights them up. “He could’ve bought me some shoes. I ain’t mean to burn the house down though,” Lil Mama says in a subsequent scene while in rehab. When asked by a therapist what statement she was trying to make, she answers, “That I’m here . . . No one is listening. I’m not invisible. I’m right here.”
No Scrubs? More Like Too Many Scrubs
Men in CrazySexyCool are invariably good-for-nothing scumbags. T-Boz faces unfaithfulness while dating Jodeci member Mr. Dalvin, while Left Eye is smitten with a deceitful, married man named Larry. The longest suffering is Chilli, who is left heartbroken time and again by the philandering Dallas Austin (also the group’s producer). The group’s anthem “Creep” appears to have been inspired by Dallas’ many trysts. Actor Evan Ross isn’t ultimately convincing in the role of suave player but fans of the lovelorn What Chilli Wants reality show are more than aware of the damage.
Pebbles, Super Villain
Men aside, former manager Pebbles is the focus of wrath. She’s portrayed as a parasitic thief who knowingly bilked millions from the naïve group. They sold millions of albums but were somehow left owing money. “This is how a group can sell 10 million records and be broke,” Left Eye says in her famous mathematical breakdown of how Pebbles and company allegedly misappropriated funds. The real Pebbles was remarkably mum online while the movie aired but her children with label executive L.A. Reid were less diplomatic. “I don’t like the way they portrayed my mom in that movie,” Aaron Reid tweeted, while sister Ashley Reid blasted critics on her timeline. “When will people realize that a movie is a MOVIE? Not truth. This is not a true story. It‘s meant to entertain.”
Crazy Is as Crazy Does
After Left Eye died in a car accident in 2002, TLC struggled to move on. The film ends with T-Boz and Chilli sharing memories of their fallen sister with fans after the tragedy. “Lisa wasn‘t crazy. She was crazy creative,” says T-Boz. “She had such a big heart. She loved people the way she wanted to be loved.” The past then turns to present. The real T-Boz and Chilli appear onscreen recording their comeback single “Meant to Be” with Ne-Yo. The tumultuous journey over, TLC is ready for a fresh start.