Mariah Carey is the star of “Mariah’s World,” both figuratively and literally. Everyone she employs believes her to be a human goddess, a woman with glitter pumping in her veins with the voice of an angel. But none more so than choreographer/dancer, Bryan Tanaka. He’s seriously fallen for the pop star. But there’s just one teensy tiny yet glaring issue his school boy crush: Mariah is engaged to billionaire James Packer. Going after a woman who’s got a rock the size of a dragon egg on her engagement finger would scare away most competitive suitors away, but this young hip hopper somehow doesn’t see this as a roadblock.
The 33-year-old for Lacey, WA. openly confesses that he’s “catching some hard feelings for Miss Mariah,” but such a statement isn’t necessary. Everyone, including Mariah, knows it. “I don’t know if I’m trippin’,” Tanaka says, “but it’s been kind of nuts lately. I feel like our chemistry is not just professional… When we talk, it feels like there’s a connection that is more than what we’ve had for the past 10 years.” When asked about the Packer situation, Tanaka remains unfazed. “I wouldn’t cross that line if it didn’t feel the way it does,” he insists. “I know it’s a complicated situation… That’s where I’m trippin’, like — she’s engaged, so maybe I’m really just trippin’.”
Yes, Tanaka. To viewers, you are seriously trippin‘. Mariah, however, instead of halting the situation, soaks up Tanaka’s adoration like sponge. “I’m not going to say I don’t feel the chemistry,” Mariah admits to camera: “I’m happy we reconnected.”
Whether it’s real or not, this whole storyline is not a good look on either of them. Flash-forward today, in which Packer and Mariah’s engagement has been called off, and her rebound relationship with Tanaka is either real love, or a paparazzi ploy to amp up ratings for the very show we’re watching, about the recent past — either way, and we may never know, it’s hard to cheer a guy on who’s actively pursuing a woman who has clearly pledged her love to someone else. And it’s strange to see Mariah, showered with love by everyone on her payroll, and adored by fans in every city of every country, not have the wherewithal to stop stimulating his obvious feelings.
Mariah’s manager, Stella, sees that Tanaka looks at “Mimi” like “she’s a plate of pasta in Italy,” and that he needs to “simmer a little.” Sorry, but if the dancer isn’t intimidated stealing an Australian billionaire’s woman, a stern talking-to from Stella isn’t going to do much, either. The only person that can shut this down is Mariah, but she won’t. Why? Because Mimi truly believes that every person lucky enough to feast their eyes on her must obviously fall in love right away. Tanaka’s crush is only natural, like the Earth rotating around the sun.
It’s funny that this episode is entitled “Catching Feelings” — it begins with the tour still in Sweden, which made us wonder if Tanaka’s really falling in love or if he simply has Stockholm syndrome. Everyone employed by the R&B diva suffers from it, in one form or another: Every breath and movement is taken with her well-being in mind. Merely being in Mariah’s presence is gift enough in return.
But then — fate intervenes, and Tanaka hurts his knee. Stella is ecstatic with the thought of Tanaka having to leave the tour: “This is the universe’s way of telling him to take a seat,” she says. And after Tanaka gets checked out by the doctor, it’s announced he can’t dance for 10 days. “I feel bad-is,” Stella then admits. “But what are we gonna do?” Schlep him around on tour?”
Mariah, however, sees the situation much differently. “It’s hard to explain, but I have to be a generous person,” she says. Speaking very slowly, as if she’s breaking down a seriously complicated psychological theory few could ever understand — including a disjointed bit about how when artists get injured, they must be nurtured, not cut — she announces Tanaka will stay on the tour anyway.
While all Stella’s hope for this drama to finally go away is clearly dashed, she replies to her boss, “You’re very kind. You’re amazing.”
They’ve all drank the Kool-Aid, folks. Mariah Carey Syndrome is real.
“Mariah’s World” airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the E! Network.