Welcome to her world: ‘Mariah’s World’ offers lots of glitter but little depth

There’s no real reason any of us should feel sorry for Mariah Carey, a singer-songwriter who’s sold roughly as many albums as there are people in Brazil.

And yet it’s hard to walk away from an episode of “Mariah’s World” without the distinct sense that, after a quarter-century in the limelight, the famously gifted artist is fighting to maintain relevance in a shifting cultural landscape.

Premiering Sunday on E!, the eight-episode reality show – excuse me, documentary series – follows Carey as she embarks on her first European tour in a decade and plans her (subsequently canceled) wedding to billionaire James Packer. 

What with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Adele, Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga the marketplace for pop divas is pretty saturated these days. And even though she broke new ground as a female artist in the ‘90s, lately Carey has tended to follow in the footsteps of other performers.

For fans of reality TV about preening, self-involved rich women and their hangers-on “Mariah’s World” will provide a perfectly satisfying scoop of empty entertainment calories. But the series is unlikely to complicate or deepen Carey’s image in any meaningful way or truly expose her vulnerabilities. 

And that’s unfortunate, because Carey has shown a capacity for humility and depth as an artist, perhaps less in her infectious music than in films like “Precious” and “The Butler.” Carey may not be acting in “Mariah’s World,” but she’s still putting on a show, and not a terribly interesting one at that.  Maybe what she really needs is a documentary series directed by Lee Daniels.

Now that I’d watch.

‘Mariah’s World’

Where: E!

When: 9 p.m. Sunday

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