Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Total Divas: “Ready To Ride”

Illustration for article titled Total Divas: “Ready To Ride”

Here is the first thing you need to accept before watching Total Divas: it is basically a (fake) reality show that goes behind the scenes of a (fake) wrestling program. There is really no need for this show to exist and it’s so baffling that it does. There doesn’t really seem like there would be an audience for it even if the ratings tell me otherwise (I’m choosing to believe that there are a lot of people who just forget to turn their televisions off). It’s hard to imagine that the core group of people who tune in to watch wrestling matches on Monday nights are the same people who are dying to watch divas argue about costumes and boyfriend problems, even taking into account the guys might turn on E! in hopes of watching pretty women in tiny outfits grapple each other. This barely happens, by the way; in “reality” the divas prefer to use their sassy words instead of their fists. When they do show the women practicing, it’s usually with male trainers.

Total Divas does have an audience and, to be honest, I am pretty much the prime target. I love reality shows, I especially love reality shows that are so blatantly scripted, and I’m an embarrassingly huge wrestling fan. Yet there is rarely anything worth watching on Total Divas. Tonight the cold open features the Bella twins quibbling over how to take a pregnancy test (one knew the proper way, the other assumed you dipped the stick inside of the toilet) before they learned there was no pregnancy, just as every viewer already knew. Recent episodes have included storylines about ill-fitting costumes, fathers who overstay their welcome, and a weirdly long scene at a gynecologist’s office. It’s supposed to be an attempt to individualize and personalize the WWE Divas division (just kidding, it’s McMahon wanting more money) but it makes them all seem like bland dolls. It’s a reflection of the WWE’s portrayal of females as a whole; I mean, there is no longer a “Women’s” Championship belt but only just a “Diva’s” belt and not only does the word “diva” often used as a negative adjective, but the belt itself is a garish butterfly thing that looks like an adolescent trinket from a Claire’s store. Still, this is all putting too much thought into a show that recently had a storyline about Natalya peeing herself in the ring. (Okay, that episode was pretty funny.)

John Cena and Nikki Bella often have the most dramatic storylines but they sound so wooden and as if they are reading off cue cards from a shitty made-for-television romantic comedy that it doesn’t carry any weight. That’s the main problem with the show: nothing has any weight. Well, that and the fact that John Cena seems like a terrible boyfriend but that’s neither here nor there. There are a few bright spots in Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan’s relationship when they actually seem like a real life human couple but even those moments are far and few between. Bryan proposing to Brie tonight was cute, I suppose, but mostly it was hilariously catty that Nikki used the opportunity to complain about her own relationship.

The biggest drama tonight was about Natalya drunk dialing her boss (WWE divas: they’re just like us!) because she was unhappy about her role in the company. I should point out that there is a hierarchy in the diva’s division: Natalya is the former queen bee, the Bellas are the hot popular cheerleaders, Eva Marie and JoJo are the freshman wannabes, and the Funkadactyls are the cool kids who are probably making fun of everyone all of the time. This was much more apparent in the earlier episodes when Total Divas was semi-interesting and before it was about Natalya acting crazy for no reason. Anyway, Stephanie McMahon appears to act stern (or at least as stern as one can be after once “marrying” a wrestler while “passed out” in a car) but then immediately eases off, laughs about the drunk dials and all is back to normal. There are never any consequences on Total Divas because it’s not a show about consequences. It’s not really a show about anything. It’s a look behind the curtain of an entertainment industry that barely ever closes its curtain to begin with.

Stray observations:

  • The Funkadactyls were barely in this episode and it’s a shame because a) they have the best name b) they are really just the best in general and c) they, especially Trinity, are often the only ones with any common sense on the show.
  • I’ve been clinging to my childhood dream of being a WWE Diva (gimmick: a witch) for years now but I think Total Divas is finally putting an end to that. I miss Lita.
  • The Bella twins are growing on me in the ring but somehow simultaneously losing me on this show. Their interview segments remind me of SNL’s  Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party. “And like, why? And like, don’t.”
  • Despite this overall negative review (it was just so overwhelming bland for a season finale), I do occasionally like Total Divas and that’s usually when it dips into “this is so completely stupid” territory. Eva Marie makes a good villain (and lousy wrestler) and JoJo is so darn adorable sometimes. Plus I’m on board Daniel Bryan’s appearances. No more Cena, though. I’ve had enough of him.