VH1's TLC Biopic Might Be Terrible, but You Should Tune In No Matter What
When VH1's Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story premieres Monday night, I'll be there with a black stripe under my left eye. As wonky as their GMA performance was, it had me feeling all of the feelings, so I'm ready to cry my face numb during the movie. If it is great, I will be happy. If it is okay, I will be happy. If it is terrible, I will be disappointed, but I'll cope (then again, I do love a crappy biopic. I've yet to delete Liz & Dick from my DVR). Drew Sidora, Lil Mama, and Keke Palmer? You've got some BIG shoes to fill. I'm rooting for you all. We're all rooting for you. The trio of Tionne Watkins, Lisa Lopes, and Rozonda Thomas remains one of the greatest, most influential female musical acts of all time. Period. So we should be stoked for whatever movie VH1 gives us, because at the very least, it gives us an excuse to talk about the legendary group.
TLC's CrazySexyCool was my first compact disc. I still have the scratched CD. When I listen to it via iTunes, I anticipate the years-old skips and glitches. I can't bring myself to replace it with a new digital copy. Call me a sentimental chump, but I love my busted CD.
I don't remember the day I got the CD, but I vividly recall listening to it on my parents' so very ''90s stereo via comically enormous headphones. I would sit on the floor for hours at time, playing "Creep" on repeat (and I wonder why that particular track now skips around like a rabbit on bath salts) and lip sync to all of Left Eye's raps. Once I had a boom box of my own, I would turn the bass waaaaay up and dance around my room for hours to their debut album, Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip. I was a gangly, awkward kid, but I was unstoppable while doing the Running Man to "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" in the privacy of my own bedroom. Those CDs took me by the shirt collar and said, "we will change your life, you kindergartener." And they did.
T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chilli were god-like to six year old me. They were famous but they were WEIRDOS. They were cool, beautiful, and talented weirdos. They did the "girls rule" thing before the Spice Girls (as I write this, I'm wearing a Spice Girls t-shirt), and I felt all sorts of empowered when I listened to their music. They preached independence ("Depend On Myself"), strong friendships ("What About Your Friends"), self-confidence ("Unpretty"), and embracing your own personal style ("Hat 2 Da Back"). In one album you can find a song about serious issues ("Waterfalls") and a prank phone call interlude ("Sexy-Interlude"), and the latter doesn't diminish the impact of the former. The duality of TLC is something I've always loved; we're multifaceted beings. You can be silly AND you can be real.
There is a reason FanMail's "No Scrubs" was such an insane hit. It is the most timeless song in the history of music (I don't know how to prove that statement other than describing what happens to my body every time I hear the opening chords: my body turns into linguini), and if you don't like the song, there is something wrong with you. The production is perfect, and the lyrics are transcendent. The song is the "middle finger to any dude who doesn't meet my standards" anthem, but it always went beyond that for me. It subverts any old-fashion belief that women should give any guy a chance just because it is "the nice thing to do."
You know what is nice? Having agency and not feeling pressured to waste your time with a person you have zero interest in. You don't want to give a "deadbeat ass" your number, you don't have to do it. It's not cruel. He's the one who put himself out there. It's your prerogative to say no if you want to say no: "I don't want your number (no)/I don't want to give you mine and (no)/I don't want to meet you nowhere (no)/I don't want none of your time". LADY POWER!
When Lisa Lopes suddenly and tragically died in 2002, the world knew the group would never be the same. I can't watch The Last Days of Left Eye all of the way through. It crushes me. Each member of TLC was just as crucial to the group's dynamic as the next. T-Boz and Chilli may pursue a comeback tour and album, but the realist in me refuses to let my expectations run wild. Both women are immensely talented, but you can't have TLC without the L (or the T or the C, for that matter). I don't know if they'll ever match their prior levels of success. Would I go to a reunion concert, regardless? Of course. I'm not an idiot.
If Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story does lean toward the "unsalvageable and awful" end of the made-for-TV-movie spectrum, here's a silver lining: the movie will expose a younger generation to the historic group (I am slightly jealous of the new crop of six year olds who will be dancing around to "Shock Dat Monkey" for the first time). As someone who did grow up with TLC, I will say that is a huge plus. Get-get up on the TLC tip.