In a follow-up to the much-discussed docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, Lifetime is bringing Soledad O’Brien onboard to host Surviving R. Kelly: The Impact.
Surviving R. Kelly featured the stories of women who claimed they endured years of sexual abuse from R. Kelly, with many of them claiming that the abuse began when they were still teenagers. While rumors about Kelly’s allegedly predatory behavior, not to mention his trial for child pornography charges, have circulated for decades, it was the docuseries that seemed to finally drive real-world consequences for Kelly. He now faces 10 counts of aggravated sexual assault in Cook County.
Lifetime says the docuseries has also changed the national conversation around sexual assault. Deadline reports that after the docuseries aired, “Calls to sexual assault hotlines increased by 35%, and #MuteRKelly activists were galvanized to protest for R. Kelly’s record label to drop him.” Showrunner dream hampton was recently named one of Time’s Most Influential People, and 26 million people have seen the docuseries. Lifetime promises that there’s more to the story, and Surviving R. Kelly: The Impact will focus on what happens now that it seems like Kelly might be held accountable:
“The special features footage from the docuseries, interviews with journalists, legal experts, non-profit organizations and psychologists to discuss the ongoing story surrounding R. Kelly, including an in-depth look at his now infamous interview with Gayle King and the women who are still standing by his side.”
Surviving R. Kelly was a big step for Lifetime, a network known for cheesy TV movies and reality shows focused on the mothers of dancing children, but as Hazel Cills wrote in her review for Jezebel, “Surviving R. Kelly is a Lifetime production, and while it bears the dramatic, gritty aesthetics of more salacious network documentaries, it does not exploit its interviewees.” Hopefully, the follow-up will be as thoughtful and diligent as the original.
Surviving R. Kelly: The Impact will air on May 4.