Typical superstar stuff, sure. But in the fifth episode of the series, it becomes clear why these dulling routines are so valuable. Bieber describes several years — referred to by some as the “Bugatti Bieber” era, for his public displays of excess — of drug abuse: “I was sipping lean, I was popping pills, I was doing molly, you know, shrooms, everything.” He was no longer in control of his health: “Bro, I was like, dying. My security and stuff were coming into the room at night to check my pulse. Like, people don’t know how serious it got. Like, it was legit crazy scary.
Two of Bieber’s doctors are interviewed in “Seasons.” And he brings cameras with him into his appointments and to a NAD treatment — an intravenous amino acid therapy that’s used as a holistic detox. But the result doesn’t feel grim or gratuitous; it’s a public service announcement against superstardom. Subsequent episodes focus on his wedding, and it’s hard not to feel your chest unclench just a bit in relief.
Part of fandom is the desire to protect your hero — that’s key to the motivation of the troops of vocal online supporters known as stan armies — although that desire isn’t necessarily predicated on the idea that the superstar is weak. Embattled, yes, but not in need of an internal boost.
But that’s exactly how Bieber is now presenting himself. The first few episodes of “Seasons” are about, loosely, how the sausage gets made. But the subsequent ones are something else altogether — a picture of how the sausage almost doesn’t get made. “It might not seem that hard to some people to just get out of bed in the morning,” Bieber says, hand in head, “but it’s been really hard for me to just get out of my bed, and I know a lot of people feel that same way. So I just also want to say that you’re not alone in that. There’s people that are going through it with you.”
What if Bieber was one of us? In the old top-down model of fame that incubated him, that would have been a laughable proposition, or at minimum, an unbankable one. But his musical and personal realignment feels more in keeping with how stars are built today: an idiosyncratic creative choice, cultivated in earnest and in private, gets picked up on by a faithful audience, sometimes of many millions. When you develop your fame that way, you’re free to say no to the demands created by doing things the old way. In this case, he can croon, hold on to the fans who want to continue to protect him, and hope that the rest of the world isn’t paying him too much mind.