So tonight was the debut of the much hyped “Total Divas” on E! and despite needing to get some sleep, my curiosity kicked in and I couldn’t help but check out the premiere episode as soon as possible. Truth be told, I hadn’t been looking forward to the show for two specific reasons – firstly, I have little or no interest in watching the WWE Divas bitching at each other for an hour (which given how the show has been trailed on WWE Raw with a multi-camera backstage “bitchy Bellas” skit a few weeks ago and that awful segment from last Monday where Jerry Lawler was randomly slapped, bitchiness is apparently a selling point of the show) – and secondly, much of the pre-show publicity seemed to centre around who the women are/were/might be sleeping with. The promise of an upcoming storyline where rookie Diva Eva Marie “targets” Fandango worryingly gives the impression that these women are defined by who they are sleeping with as much as anything else. Oh, yeah – and to quote Canadian indy worker Kc Spinelli from an episode of “World of Hurt” with Lance Storm, “There’s nothing as fake as reality TV”
Still, I figured I’d try and go into it with an open mind… and honestly… it wasn’t that bad.
The first thing that hits you like a ton of bricks is not just the fact that the show officially “outs” several relationships between Divas and Superstars, but that the show uses real names. The Funkadactyls aren’t “Cameron & Naomi” here – they’re Ariane & Trinity, and Brie‘s beau Daniel Bryan is referred to as Bryan Danielson. I suppose that was to be expected, but it’s definitely a little weird to adjust to.
Now, I know we all watch “fake” entertainment every week and we’re happy to suspend our disbelief when we watch our wrestling, but there’s a definite feeling in the back of your head while watching Total Divas that everything is being – while not scripted – at least manipulated for the sake of creating drama. Nowhere did this seem more obvious than the scene where Natalya (or Nattie, I guess) gets pulled aside apparently backstage at Raw six days before WrestleMania and advised that she wasn’t going to have a match on the card. Cue “drama” as Nattie looks very sad, and we hear how Nattie has family flying in specifically to see her wrestle, and we get to see her “congratulate” Brie on getting a match at the show. Given that Nattie was nowhere near any relevant programs in the WrestleMania build season, even the mere thought that somehow she thought she might be working the show just screams BS. But hey… that’s reality TV.
Other “storylines” playing out on the first episode were the arrivals of ‘newbies’ Eva Marie & JoJo (who legitimately looks like she’s 16 years old, but is apparently 19) and the SWERVE~! recolouring of Eva’s hair so she doesn’t look like the third Bella Twin, our first look at the Bellas home life, with the seemingly down to earth couple of Brie & Bryan contrasting with Nikki & John Cena (who bought Nikki a car, while she bothered him about his marital intentions and recreated scenes from The Notebook), and drama involving the Funkadactyls and Ariane’s non-wrestler boyfriend Vincent causing a scene backstage. I don’t intend to go into any of the stories too much, but I was surprised I didn’t really end up disliking anybody other than possibly Ariane – who in turn made Trinity the most sympathetic and likeable figure on the show. Anyway, we’ll see how future weeks pan out, but I think the countdown to WrestleMania overarching theme really helped with this show – but one thing is for sure, the show seemed faaaar too long. I was ready for the episode to be over, looked at the timer and realised I was only halfway through. Not a good sign. We shall see whether that changes in the coming weeks too.
Let’s be honest, I might run a women’s wrestling website and this *is* a show featuring some of the most prominent women in the biggest wrestling company in the world, but I’m really not the target market here. More to the point, other than the peek behind the curtain afforded by the cameras, I don’t believe that wrestling fans are really the target market either – but that was always to be expected. This is a show for your E! network reality show fans who like their shows bitchy, trashy and glamorous – not a show for your WWE fanbase. This is for people who watch the Kardashians or the Real Housewives of wherever. I’m not saying that I either like or endorse Total Divas, but I’m happy to admit that it wasn’t the car crash I was expecting. Ask me again in a few weeks, maybe.
Total Divas is repeated tonight in the US after Monday Night Raw on USA Network, and will continue to air exclusively every Sunday night at 10pm on E!
— Stew Allen
— Photos/caps via eonline.com