On Thursday night, Lifetime premiered its highly-anticipated docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” which delves into the singer’s history of alleged physical and emotional abuse of women. And Twitter had a lot to say about the series’ revelations.
The first night of the three-night, six-part event featured one-on-one interviews with Kelly’s brothers Carey and Bruce Kelly; his former tour manager and personal assistant Demetrius Smith; music producer Craig Williams and a host of journalists and clinical psychologists.
It also included sit-downs with several accusers, including Jovante Cunningham, Lizzette Martinez, Lisa Van Allen and R. Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Kelly.
The first two parts of the special revealed R. Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, was molested as a child for years and detailed his rise to stardom. As the musician gained notoriety, several of his colleagues and former employees said he often visited his former high school, Kenwood High School in Chicago, as an adult and often had young girls at his studio and on his tour buses.
“You can clearly see that they were babies,” Williams recalled. “That was something I didn’t want to be around.”
R. Kelly’s accusers called him “controlling” and a “mass manipulator” as they recounted their alleged abuse. Allen, who said she met the singer at a video shoot, claims he forced her to have sex with a girl she later found out was 15-years-old. Allen was 17-years-old at the time. Martinez, who was also met R. Kelly before her 18th birthday, said she contracted mononucleosis from the singer-songwriter.
During the premiere, many took to Twitter to share their thoughts. Several said they were “disturbed” and “disgusted” after watching the tearful interviews and accounts of alleged sexual and mental abuse by R. Kelly.
I’m really disturbed by this documentary
— Jessincaseidontmakeithometonite (@JustdatGreat) January 4, 2019
— Debrickashaw Ferguson (@citizengabe) January 4, 2019
— _livin_la_vida_lola (@LivinLola) January 4, 2019
I’m still not okay watching this. Just trying to process it all. It’s a lot.
Grown women still carrying guilt for a sexual act they were pressured into by a predator some 20 years ago – So much pain. #SurvivingRKelly
— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) January 4, 2019
Some even said they had to turn it off or couldn’t watch at all.
Am I the only one that cant bring himself to watch this Surviving R. Kelly documentary? It just makes me sick to my stomach.
— Ms. Kondo (@RaytedG) January 4, 2019
3 mins into the R.Kelly special & I cant watch it
— young Mogul (@justjay_d) January 4, 2019
I had to stop watching that R. Kelly series. It’s too disturbing. 🤯😢🤬🤧
— her. (@DaijaRaquel) January 4, 2019
This is getting heavy.
Self-care, self-care. Step away from the screen and stop watching if it is getting too much.
Walk outside, get some fresh air.
Grab a drink. Pray. Eat something.
— Black Girl Nerds (@BlackGirlNerds) January 4, 2019
A number of people were particularly stunned by the claim that Cunningham, a former backup singer, said she saw R. Kelly and an underaged Aaliyah having sex on a tour bus.
The fact that Aaliyah’s debut album–which was COMPLETELY written and produced by R. Kelly–is called “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” is a serious tell.
All the signs were there. #SurvivingRKelly
— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) January 4, 2019
R. Kelly had Aaliyah telling interviewers “it’s a secret” when they asked how old she was.
Adding the question of age to the mystique of a young artist is inherently insidious before you find out he was sleeping with her on the tour bus #SurvivingRKelly
— Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire) January 4, 2019
— I’m White and I’m Hot (@Blac_Dahliaa) January 4, 2019
Aaliyah’s folks aren’t concerned about her name being dragged. They’re concerned about being exposed as terrible parents & being held accountable for pimping that girl for hits. #SurvivingRKelly
— Highly Flavored (@thywillbedion) January 4, 2019
R. Kelly bought Aaliyah’s silence for $100?!??!? God help Black girls. #SurvivingRKelly
— Joi-Marie (@joimariewrites) January 4, 2019
Many commended the accusers for sharing their stories and uplifted all victims of sexual assault.
God bless all the survivors who are telling their stories because this is hard to do in general, let alone to share your truth with the world. Y’all are going to save someone’s life. Thank you so much 🙌🏾 #SurvivingRKelly
— Princess Shuri (@yuupiitsniik) January 4, 2019
Wow. #SurvivingRKelly. So brave these women. Coming forward to tell their truth. Heartbreaking. So many young girls…..
— Deborah Cox (@Deborah_Cox) January 4, 2019
— terry crews (@terrycrews) January 4, 2019
We should all thank my friend @dreamhampton for her very necessary work to create #SurvivingRKelly. These survivors deserved to be lifted up and heard. I hope it gets them closer to some kind of justice.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) January 4, 2019
And a few denounced the docuseries for being based on “false allegations.”
All these false allegations sound a fishy to me …. #SurvivngRKelly
— Lil nu 🦍 (@NunuDrippin) January 4, 2019
R KELLY IS INNOCENT!
— TC🥶 (@TannerAColson) January 4, 2019
I don’t believe in the uproar about R Kelly. If they took a check they part of the problem.
— Mr McCoy (@LB4R_Sarge) January 4, 2019
I don’t believe R.kelly did anything 🤷🏽♀️
— thatschyna (@ThatsChyna_) January 4, 2019
Despite the accusations, R. Kelly is not facing any criminal charges and is not known to be under investigation. He has also denied all claims of sexual abuse.
“Surviving R. Kelly,” produced by dream hampton, will continue on Lifetime at 9 p.m. ET Friday, Jan. 4 and Saturday, Jan. 5.