The Houstons: On Our Own

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Houstons: On Our Own TV Poster Image
Late singer's family sticks together, exploits tragedy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The importance of family, faith, and growing up are central themes in the show. Dealing with loss is also a major element. Some mixed messages in the fact that this is a reality show but the family professes to want to be protective of family members.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The family appears close and loving. Pat Houston is committed to helping Bobbi Kristina through the grieving process; others are not happy about the time she spends doing this. Bobbi Kristina engages in some destructive behavior.


Family members have heated discussions about a lot of things, but there's nothing violent. Discussions about death and loss.


Expect references to a potentially inappropriate relationship between Bobbi Kristina and family friend Nick Gordon, but nothing explicitly sexual. Flirting is also visible.


Words like "damn," "hell," and "ass" are audible. Words like "bulls--t" are mostly bleeped.


Labels like Yves St. Laurent are visible. Whitney Houston songs are often audible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol consumption (wine, champagne, mixed drinks) is common. Underage cast members are shown drinking, but it's characterized as a negative action. It also contains subtle references to the late singer's problems with addiction.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Houstons is a voyeuristic reality show featuring the surviving family of the late Whitney Houston trying to cope with the loss of the singer. The show contains positive themes about family, but also focuses on coping with loss, and a potentially inappropriate relationship between Whitney Houston's daughter and her adopted son. Contains some mild language ("damn," "hell," "ass") and bleeped words like "bulls--t". Underage drinking is occasionally visible (but viewed as negative behavior), plus some references to the late singer's addictions.

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What's the story?

THE HOUSTONS: ON OUR OWN follows family members of the late Whitney Houston as they cope with the loss of troubled singer. Three months after Whitney's death, Pat Houston, Whitney's sister-in-law and executor of her Atlanta estate, and Gary Houston, Whitney's older brother, are raising their teenage daughter Rahay while keeping a watchful eye over Bobbi Kristina, Whitney and singer Bobbi Brown's adult daughter. But helping her cope with her mother's death isn't easy, especially when she is turning to unhealthy behaviors and relying on her best friend-turned-boyfriend Nick Gordon to emotionally support her. But Pat is committed to helping her niece, while trying to manage the business and her family, including Grandmother Cissy, who has some strong opinions about what is going on and what her nieces are up to.

Is it any good?

Not surprisingly, The Houstons centers on a family that is deeply affected by the loss of the pop star, who was their mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and a friend. Most of the drama revolves around how the family is struggling to help each other cope with the loss, as well as dealing with the unique challenges that come from working in the entertainment industry, the tabloid media, and with life's every day problems.

One has to wonder why they have chosen to publicly air this grieving process, especially when they are so concerned about Bobbi Kristina's well-being. As a result, while the show contains some very positive messages about family, it also seems very exploitative. Nonetheless, Whitney Houston fans will probably find something engaging here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about reality shows. Why do you think the Houstons agreed to appear on this show?  Does this show offer "teachable moments," or is it just offering some voyeuristic entertainment?

  • Losing a loved one is difficult. Unfortunately, people often turn to destructive behaviors like drinking to cope with it. What kinds of positive things can people do to help themselves and others through the grieving process?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality shows

Themes & Topics

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