Mariah Carey Invites Critics Into ‘Mariah’s World,’ Calls ‘American Idol’ Stint ‘The Most Abusive Experience’

mariah carey mariah's world E
Courtesy of NBCU

Mariah Carey invited journalists into “Mariah’s World” with a panel for her upcoming E! docu-series at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Wednesday afternoon.

In what was certainly a TCA first, Carey took the TCA stage with a retinue of shirtless men who assembled themselves, Voltron-style, into a “couch” for the singer to perch on, before she took over the chaise lounge brought onstage for the occasion. While sipping “a splash” of champagne, the singer addressed questions with a mixture of self-deprecating humor and wry candor, calling her time as a judge on “American Idol” “the most abusive experience,” before jokingly telling the critic who posed the question, “you’ve driven me to drink” as she took another sip of bubbly.

Much of the talk centered around Carey’s eight-part series, which the songstress preferred to characterize as a documentary because, “I don’t consider it reality… I haven’t been on tour in Europe in about 10 years. So I thought, let’s just show the behind-the-scenes, what it really takes to do a tour… and mainly, watch how the music evolves, watch the process, and watch how the different personalities clash.” Of the format that makes up much of E!’s programming slate, she dryly noted, “I don’t watch reality — I don’t even know what reality is, literally.”

Carey admitted some reticence about letting the cameras into her private life when filming began, telling reporters that when it comes to setting boundaries with the camera crew, “I think we’re still drawing lines … I think in the beginning I was withholding the amount of access because I’m never sure who to trust. I just didn’t know how things were going to be perceived … We’re still in the process of filming and getting more real moments. But my goal is to make this a lasting piece of work for my fans.”

Carey confirmed that ex-husband Nick Cannon had been filmed during the series, along with her children and fiance James Packer, but said it remains to be seen how much of that footage will make it into the final cut of the show. The singer also expressed hope that the show will allow audiences to see sides of her that they aren’t familiar with, or might play against preconceived notions of who she is. “I don’t know that anybody really knows the real me because if somebody sees me on TV or a video, it’s not enough time to get to know somebody… hopefully they’ll see other sides of me that are entertaining,” she said.

The premiere date for the series is Sunday, Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. Following the US debut, the show will premiere outside North America on E!’s 15 international channels, reaching 153 countries in 24 languages with the UK, Australia and New Zealand premiering within 24 hours of the US, and all international channels within two weeks of the E! US broadcast.

“Mariah’s World” is produced by Bunim/Murray Productions in association with Magic Carpet Productions. Gil Goldschein, Jeff Jenkins, Farnaz Farjam and Chris Ray are executive producers for Bunim/Murray Productions. Carey and Stella Bulochnikov also serve as executive producers.