Fresh off the success of America's Next Top Model and the failure of The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliott, this week saw the launch of UPN's latest effort in the talent scouting reality genre with R U the Girl with T-Boz and Chilli. However, don't let the incorrectly spelled title of the show, the premise of the show in general, or the fact that it's airing on mini-network UPN scare you away... because the truth is, this little show has attitude and a little bit of charm as well.
Back in 2002, one of pop and R&B music's best-selling girl-group tragically lost the L of TLC. Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was killed in a car accident while spending time in Honduras, not only leaving thousands of fans all over the world in mourning, but also leaving band mates Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas without the third member of their Grammy-winning trio, who were perhaps best known for their singles "Creep," "Waterfalls," and "No Scrubs." After the passing of Left Eye, T-Boz and Chilli returned to the studio and finished up producing the final full-length album to feature all three women (Left Eye had recorded vocals for six of the tracks prior to the accident) which was titled 3D, and it was eventually announced that Left Eye would not be replaced in the group and TLC would disband after the initial release and promotion of the album. However, during promotion for 3D, T-Boz and Chilli performed at a concert in the summer of 2003 hosted by New York-based radio station Z100 which featured video footage of Left Eye singing the same songs the surviving two members were performing live. Fan reaction to the performance was strong and was eventually the deciding factor in T-Boz and Chilli deciding not to let go of TLC just yet after all.
This has lead to the surviving two members to develop and produce R U the Girl, UPN's nation-wide search for a talented "triple threat" girl who can sing, dance and rap. Though the show — which seems to be particularly similar to another reality show titled Rock Star: INXS, in which the members of that band are looking for a replacement of their deceased frontman — may make it seem as though T-Boz and Chilli are going back on their decision not to replace Left Eye, both girls have stated in the show and the press that a "replacement" isn't what they're looking for with this series. They're simply looking for a third girl to bring in as an extra vocal on a new TLC single that will be placed on their forthcoming greatest hits package, as well as the once in a lifetime opportunity to perform with T-Boz and Chilli live in concert. The series at first feels like another lame attempt for UPN to try and reel in new viewers with the help of established celebrities, but after sitting through the show's premiere episode, you actually get a bit of a different feel.