When Place to Be Nation sought out a correspondent to watch and write about the new WWE/E! reality show Total Divas each week, they initially wanted a “female voice.” Unfortunately for them, lifelong wrestling fan Ben Morse also happens to count Melrose Place among his all-time favorite shows and already has every other E! show on in the background via his lovely wife Megan, so he whined until they let him do it.
Jen Engle doesn’t watch wrestling or E!, but the Powers at PTB roped her into this anyway.
Find out what happens when one overly enthusiastic dude and a lady who has no idea what’s going on talk about a weekly “reality” show focusing on the female side of WWE.
Ben: Jen, first of all, welcome back. I hope you had a great vacation, but never leave again. Working with Callum Leslie was a nightmare. He thought everybody was a Gracie. It was just a disaster.
Jen: I’m back! Sorry guys, you can’t get rid of me all that easily. Thanks Ben! It looks like I missed a pretty good week. It was worth it though, I spent the week living at the beach and I am mildly tan…well tan for me.
Ben: Secondly, in addition to being an unstoppable ratings juggernaut, Total Divas got picked up for six additional episodes in the fall! I’m pretty sure this makes us the most powerful writers on Place to be Nation and we should renegotiate our contracts ASAP, possibly to get paid something for doing this.
Jen: We totally deserve it. Maybe I’ll withhold future 90’s stories until Justin caves.
Ben: Third, I’ve been trying to sell this show to a lot of my co-workers who are also wrestling fans, and what generally hooks them is as I frantically and excitedly do the rundown they react, “Wait, is this PG?” No, no it is not, so if you’re somebody who longs for the old non-PG TV days of WWE, Total Divas is the place for you, friends.
But all that aside, we’ve got a brand new episode this week, where the guiding lights steering Total Divas destiny once again decided to try some focus shifting with various degrees of success per usual. While the Bellas remained the center of the TD Universe, some of the girls who hadn’t gotten as much screen time received some this episode and I ended up changing my tune on at least one for the better. Read on to learn more!
Jen: I really do think that this show should be renamed something like “The Bella Twins (with special guests…).”
Ben: Oh! One more quick note, and that’s that my buddy Renee Young, WWE’s backstage interviewer extraordinaire—you can follow her on Twitter @ReneeYoungWWE—does an after show for Total Divas on WWE’s YouTube page. Renee rocks and provides a nice wrap for your whole TD experience, so if you dig this column, give that a look.
So! The show kicks off with Nikki and Nattie shopping for lingerie. This seemed odd to me as no real friendship between these particular Divas had been established to this point, but you figure you’re on the road as much as these girls are and bonds probably form between everybody you work closely with. Also, I like when they go for odd pairings, and it doesn’t get much odder than extroverted Nikki with straight-laced Nattie, so I approve. The pre-credits bumper focused both on Nikki’s breast implants and Nattie wanting to get her fiancé to pay more attention to her, both storylines that would expand throughout the show (no pun intended—not sure I needed to say that here, but I figure I’d cover all my bases).
Jen: Okay, Nattie and Nikki shopping was the strangest pairing on the show yet. I don’t really understand why they were shopping together either. I agree that they never really seemed to have any sort of friendship on the show before this. Even though it was strange, it was pretty funny and like Ben, I approved. I hope they explore this more; I picture Nattie mothering Nikki and it just going all wrong. I’d also like to see Nikki trying to corrupt Nattie…actually that would probably be way more amusing.
Ben: While Nikki shopped with Nattie, Brie hung out with America’s sweetheart, Bryan, and talked about how she wanted to go on a juice cleanse to lose weight for an upcoming photo shoot. Bryan voiced the thoughts of most likely every viewer—he is America’s sweetheart—by noting that Brie doesn’t have much weight to lose, but she countered that she’s in the entertainment business and even three pounds can be a huge deal. While we’re generally pretty lighthearted with these recaps in keeping with the tone of the show in general, I feel for Brie, who seems like a very cool person; she talked on multiple occasions on how she only sees her flaws when she looks in the mirror, and while she may have chosen a career path where that pressure may be inevitable, it’s still sad, as she’s clearly beautiful and in great shape. I’ve known many people, both men and women, with body image issues and eating disorders—I went through a fraction of it when I had to cut weight for amateur wrestling—and it’s the most agonizing thing as the person just can’t see what’s right in front of them and torment themselves. This is one instance where I hope this was more storyline than reality.
Jen: Boys, pay attention to Daniel Bryan here. He really is America’s sweetheart. Why is it that they always want to lose three pounds? First, Regina George and now Brie. Brie does not need to lose an ounce! I actually kind of wish she’d eat a burger, but I don’t think that would taste very good juiced.
Ben: Setting up her own involvement in Brie’s story, Nikki began having her own body image woes when a fan called her “the fat twin” on Instagram, news brought to her attention by an otherwise absent from this episode JoJo and Eva Marie, the latter of whom looked she had just been peeled off a cookie sheet greased with self-tanner. Understandably, Nikki got a little upset, but seemed able to roll with it pretty well, not wanting to “show emotion” in front of the newbies. My wife Megan pointed out she doesn’t see a “fat twin” with the Bellas, if anything just a more muscular one as Brie seems to focus on keeping her diet while Nikki hits the gym more; both methods of staying in shape seem to be working fine, it’s just tough because each has a living mirror next to them at all times.
Jen: I can’t imagine the sort of pressure that these girls are under, but Brie really has amazing willpower. I can’t blame Nikki for wanting to enjoy dessert and wine every once in a while. Can you imagine the training that this girl is going through every day? If she’s happy the way she is, then her sister needs to leave her alone about it. Nikki seems to have a pretty good head on her shoulders. I almost picture her saying “Haters gonna hate” after reading those comments and walking away with her head held high.
I’d also like to point out how staged it was that Eva Marie was the one to show Nikki the bad comments on Instagram. It was so fake! Although, I wouldn’t put it past her to find the comment and purposely point it out to Nikki in an attempt to make her feel bad about herself. She is a mean girl after all.
I really hope that these girls don’t feel as bad about themselves as the producers made them out to be. Between this storyline and Ariane’s fake boobs, this episode isn’t doing a lot to help with body image.
Side note, Eva Marie is a gorgeous girl but, seriously the orange spray tan and bright red hair have got to go.
Ben: Speaking of the twins, y’know, looking alike, Brie brings up a point I’ve made to, well, myself—and maybe my wife—several times since the Bellas came back to WWE, that being that they’re literally in the business of looking alike, so Nikki’s implants do already mess up their act to some degree. Brie harps on this as well as Nikki’s penchant for enjoying wine and dessert when the sisters and Bryan go out to dinner, so the twins agree to do a juice cleanse for 20 days leading up to their photo shoot.
The juice cleanse goes terribly, and though I did try to take this storyline a little more seriously, grumpy Nikki was too entertaining not to chuckle at a lot of it. The Bellas remain my favorite part of the show, but I vacillate between down-to-Earth Brie and wickedly amusing Nikki being my favorite; they’re both great.
Jen: Have you ever heard of the word “hangry”? Yes, that’s anger you get from being hungry. I get hangry. If I’m hungry, you might want to get me something to eat or you’ll see my bitchy side. I think Nikki and I have that in common. From the moment Brie mentioned the juice cleanse, I knew this would fail miserably.
Ben: Brie finds an empty wine bottle in her sister’s garbage, leading Nikki to utter the line of the night: “Wine has anti-oxidants in it; I don’t consider it a full alcoholic beverage.” The girls bicker, with Brie even busting out “This is why they call you fat on Twitter,” but ultimately make amends during the photo shoot where Nikki admits how her sister’s comments hurt more than any fan’s and they have a heart-to-heart where they each admit their own body image issues and decide “the Bellas can look different; we’re twins, not clones” in another classic line.
Jen: Nikki’s line about wine not being a full alcoholic beverage was priceless. It’s also made out of grapes Nikki! It’s totally a fruit. It counts as a serving, right?
I’m glad they ended that arc with Brie saying that they don’t have to be clones, because it’s true. And it’s a statement that their younger viewers should hear from them. The young girls that look up to the twins should see that even though they are twins, they can be different and it’s okay.
Ben: As an aside, the video the Bellas were doing the shoot for has been running as an ad on the top of Marvel.com that expands when you roll over it for the last week and has been driving me insane every time I try to update the content of the site.
Jen: I haven’t had this issue with that video, but I have to say those types of ads are my biggest Internet pet peeve aside from a video that won’t do anything other than buffer.
Ben: Switching gears, but not too far off, Ariane decides that she wants to follow in Nikki’s footsteps and get breast implants. She drags Trinity and Jon Uso to the doctor with her, where there’s a woman whose sole job seems to be to come in and show potential clients her augmented breasts and let them touch the implants to see that they work? I dunno. I do know that Trinity makes Jon come in from the waiting room so this lady can flash him and it’s hilarious. Jon’s eyes bugging out of his head and confused look as he walked back outside made the scene.
Jen: Trinity’s reaction to the whole implant storyline with Ariane really made me appreciate her more. She’s totally right, Ariane does NOT need the implants. I really don’t understand why she would entertain the idea if she’s happy with her body to begin with. Unfortunately, it makes me think that either the WWE or the producers put her up to it. Jon Uso in the doctor’s office was hilarious. You’d think he wouldn’t care, but he seemed so nervous and weirded out about touching her breasts, I couldn’t stop laughing. I wouldn’t mind the Funkadactyls so much if it was just Trinity. I am still not sold on Ariane, even if she did decide not to go through with the implants. If she was really set on them, I couldn’t see her changing her mind that easily.
Ben: In case you were wondering, yes, Ariane used “the bomb dot com” again this week, and yes, I still want it on a t-shirt.
Jen: I’m already sick of “the bomb dot com”, but clearly it needs a t-shirt. I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen any yet.
Ben: Also this week, the show acknowledged Ariane and Trinity’s stage names of Cameron and Naomi; not that notable except that the Bellas refer to Ariane as “Cameron” multiple times later, so maybe they needed to go back and edit. I’m on to you, Total Divas!
Ariane borrowed a set of, I guess, “tryout” implants that she put in her bra and showed off everywhere and to anybody who would pay attention. She did a great overblown “Baywatch” slow-mo run into the pool and then lost one of the implants, which would become a running trend. We also got the highly anticipated return of her boyfriend Vincent, who named the implants, rubbed his head sweat off on a blanket, and then sniffed said blanket afterwards.
Jen: I caught Vincent sniffing the blanket too. Weirdo. Who names breasts “Janice”? The only Janice I know was Chandler’s nasally ex-girlfriend on Friends. That name does not make me think of fake boobs. Maybe Janice is Ariane’s REAL real name? Vincent seems to be a bit of a character, and I’m wondering where Janice—er Ariane met him and how they ended up in a relationship.
Ben: All of these scenes gave me new appreciation for the Funkadactyls, who really work best in tandem, with Ariane as the over-the-top lunatic and Trinity as the straight woman rolling her eyes and shaking her head. This storyline worked really nicely to showcase them and now I’m looking forward to their future segments a lot more.
Jen: I could look forward to more of the Funkadactyls if their segments stayed more like this, and without the drama…looking at the preview for next week that doesn’t appear to happen.
Ben: Ariane’s drama concluded with her bringing the falsies to Raw and wanting to sew them into her outfit. This necessitated another confrontation with seamstress Sandra, who totally owned her screen time by making fun of Ariane for having smaller breasts than the other Divas and basically asking her why she waited so long to get implants. You will never stop paying for crossing seamstress Sandra, Ariane, nor should you.
Jen: NEVER piss off your seamstress. Sandra has you right where she wants you Ariane, watch out.
Ben: In a great swerve, though, the Bellas stole one of the implants so Ariane had to run around like a crazy person and then just pad half her top with tissue paper. John Cena showed up for a quick cameo to scold the twins for their naughtiness; the other major “blink and you missed it” of note went to Damien Sandow, who Ariane nearly ran over while practicing shaking her new boobs.
After the Bellas fessed up, Ariane decided she’d stick with what God gave her, as did Brie, who tried on the fakes herself and felt ridiculous.
Ben: Last and possibly least, your mileage may vary, we followed Nattie as she attempted to get her fiancé TJ—aka the very talented and currently on the DL WWE Superstar Tyson Kidd—to treat her more like a lover and less like a friend, parading around in lingerie and talking about their wedding while he remained kind of endearingly oblivious. We got the full romantic history of the two, as they grew up together in Canada and started dating 13 years ago when both became wrestlers.
Jen: Nattie is still one of my favorite Divas on this show, but it seems like a lot of what went on with her and TJ this episode was contrived by E!. He was oblivious to her walking around in lingerie? Really? My guess is he was a little uncomfortable with the crew there when she did it. Also, she probably did that entrance three or four times before the producers said to move on. I feel for her, I’m sure after 13 years and no wedding and the fact that he barely looked at her when she was prancing around practically naked does absolutely nothing for her confidence. I like Nattie, and I’m sad that they seem to use her mostly for pity.
Ben: After Nattie pouted a few times, TJ took her to the courthouse as a “big surprise,” thinking it a romantic gesture and she chewed him out saying she wanted to get married in front of their friends and families. TJ bounced back by producing—no doubt with the help of the Total Divas production crew, who may or may not have clued him in—a true romantic moment, complete with roses, wine and the works, assuring her that he does love her and will give her the wedding she wants—on this very show, in fact!
Jen: TJ’s surprise trip to the courthouse was probably the worst idea he’s ever had. She doesn’t just want a piece of paper, you idiot! Thankfully the producers probably filled him in after that fight and he produced this great romantic gesture for millions of viewers to see.
Ben: I like Nattie and I like TJ, but I found their storyline a bit harder to swallow than the others because they both seemed to lay it on a little thick. Obviously I don’t know them, so I’m sure there’s an element of truth to the issues they discussed tonight, but honestly, they seem like a pretty solid couple who know where they stand and played up a little drama tonight for the cameras. I know, I know, it’s a “reality” show, but the Bellas and even the Funkadactyls still generally come off seeming at least partially legit, whereas this and some of the stuff with the MIA newbies can seem a little too contrived.
Overall, another great episode of Total Divas, with the Bellas continuing to own it and the Funkadactyls winning me over, so I’m a happy recapper. My DVR cut out before I got much of next week’s preview, but I think Eva Marie gets a storyline for the first time in weeks? We shall see!
Jen: Pretty solid episode, looking forward to seeing next week’s! I don’t want to spoil anything for Ben, but looks like there will be some catfights…
Ben: Spoilers! I edit this thing!