Before I begin, shout out to Steve Melo for the excellent banner!
About halfway through the second episode of E!’s Total Divas, I realized I couldn’t watch this show sober anymore. It dawned on me that by agreeing to watch this show, I’m going to have to forego watching an hour of my beloved Sunday Night Football. I needed a drink badly. During a commercial break, I frantically searched my house for any kind of alcohol, finding only an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels in the freezer. I can’t stand Jack Daniels, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Kids, do not try this at home. And by “this,” I mean watching Total Divas.
What’s vexingly frustrating about this show is that WWE is trying to be meta by blatantly fabricating soap opera-style storylines on a “reality” show that’s supposed to be a look behind the scenes at the ladies of WWE.
Case in point: Fandango.
For those that don’t know, Fandango is a wrestler named Curtis Jonathan Hussey who used to go by the ring name of Johnny Curtis. Earlier this year, Curtis Hussey was given a ballroom dancing gimmick and a new moniker of Fandango (no mention of Johnny Curtis was ever given). On Total Divas, where they make reference to the fact that Daniel Bryan’s real name is Bryan Danielson, and Ariane and Trinity’s ring names (Cameron and Naomi, respectively) have yet to be uttered once, they refer to Fandango not as Johnny, or Curtis, or even Curt. They refer to him as Fandango, and only Fandango.
Try and keep up with me. There were two major storylines in this week’s episode. One involved Nicole and Brianna Garcia (although their real last names weren’t mentioned, Brie called Nikki “Nicole”) going to their respective boyfriends’ houses, which had nothing to do with wrestling, despite them dating wrestlers. And in the other, “Eva Marie” (whose real name is Natalie, a little too close to Nattie Neidhardt to be mentioned on air) tries to audition to be “Fandango’s” (not Curtis’s) dancing partner, despite having no dance experience. Both stories were portrayed to be real, yet one kept “kayfabe” even when behind the scenes.
Is your head spinning yet? And you wonder why I need to start drinking.
It certainly doesn’t help matters that Eva Marie, who along with the Bellas is the protagonist of this program, is being portrayed as a horrible human being. I have no idea how “Natalie” is in real life, but here are a couple of things I do know about her:
- She’s a fitness model with no prior wrestling experience who seemingly was hired solely for this show on the E! network. This isn’t a complete strike against her; WWE has had success before with hiring fitness models with no previous wrestling experience. Trish Stratus is the archetype, but she busted her ass for years to be a great woman’s wrestler. Fitness model Barbie Blank had moderate success as wrestler Kelly Kelly, and developed her in-ring game to where she wasn’t completely unwatchable.
- She’s being asked to improv on this show and she can’t act. That’s probably the biggest strike against her, and my general problem with shows like The Kardashians and The Hills. At least the Jersey Shore kids have charisma.
Okay, now here’s what I know about “Eva Marie” after this episode:
- She became engaged on camera to a guy she has only been dating for two and a half months. He proposes in her hotel room and she affirmatively responds not with a gasp or ecstatic yell, but with a smile and a nod. I successfully proposed once, and if my fiancée had reacted the way Eva Marie reacted, I would have NOT been happy. I also wouldn’t have proposed to her in her hotel room while her roommate was in the other room, but that’s beside the point.
- As he leaves, she responds to his flirtatious, “That ring looks hot on you,” with “Thank you,” like she was responding to a compliment she got from a fan on the street. (I can see the season finale breakup coming a mile away)
- Seemingly unfazed at the fact that she’s going to get married, she doesn’t call her family or friends, but instead refocuses on the task of becoming Fandango’s permanent dancer.
- Before heading out to a club to meet Fandango and get to know him better, she takes her engagement ring off.
- She lies to WWE management about her dance background, and when presented with a way of backing out to prevent embarrassment by Jojo, she instead continues to perpetuate the lie, claiming that you need to “fake it ‘till you make it.”
- She predictably blows the tryout and earns another stern warning, this time from Stephanie McMahon, VP of Creative and daughter of owner Vince McMahon.
- Having defied or lied to WWE for the second time, the only explanation she could muster was “I completely took it on a whole other level” and “You will not see my face unless it’s…(beat, thinking)…on a positive.”
So far, “Eva Marie’s” only redeeming quality is that she’s gorgeous, and for some people, that’s enough to continue watching the show (hell, that’s what’s sustained the aforementioned Kardashians and Hills). But beauty is a depreciating asset and she needs to bring more to the table to have a shelf life beyond the arc of this season. Granted, I’ve said the same thing before about seemingly talentless divas such as Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres, and they both exceeded my expectations. I’m willing to continue to give Eva Marie a chance, but I’ve been very unimpressed so far, and she belongs more in the pages of Maxim and less on my television screen.
The big draw for this week’s show was getting a glimpse at John Cena’s mansion in Tampa. FL. Here’s the thing about John Cena for those who don’t know: he isn’t universally liked by the WWE’s audience. Women and children seem to enjoy him, but grown males aren’t particularly fond of him. Getting an inside look at his luxurious palatial estate (which the gang flew to on a private jet) will do John no favors at getting on the good side of the grown male WWE fans. Bryan Danielson, on the other hand, may have endeared himself more to his loyal following by choosing to live in the house he grew up in located in sunny, cheery Aberdeen, Washington.
The central conflict in this week’s episode was over Brie’s reluctance to move to Aberdeen with Bryan after their wrestling careers end. Brie cited the lack of sunlight as one of the main reasons why she was hesitant to move. Believe it or not, I’m actually siding with Brie on this one. I’ve had personal experience with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM) as a common disorder. Lack of sunlight, especially for those who are used to it (the Bellas are from San Diego, aka the place with the greatest weather on earth), can lead to depression. I went to college in Ithaca, NY, which is cloudy 300 days a year. My first semester, I had met a friend who was from Hawaii, and he transferred after the first gloomy, cloudy semester after being diagnosed with SAD. So I definitely identify with what Brie was going through, and she’s easily the best character on this show. I know you guys didn’t come into this Total Divas review expecting a lecture on pantophysiology and its relation to mood disorders, but I need to keep my brain cells from dying.
Elsewhere on Total Divas, Ariane is fed up with Sandra, the seamstress (who by the way, is easily the best actress on the show), and goes behind her back to an outside costume designer to design her and Trinity’s new outfits. The new outfit doesn’t fit Trinity (prompting the E! network to blur out Trinity’s camel toe), and forces Ariane to ask Sandra (sternly, I might add) to fix a mistake she never made. What followed was an awkward improv “fight” where Sandra held up her end of the bargain by acting offended and demanding an apology, and Ariane stuttering and giggling her way through pretending to be defiant, at one point blaming Trinity for how the outfit looked on her. If there’s anyone on this show worse than Eva Marie, it’s Ariane.
I may need something stronger next week.
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