Previously on Total Bellas: Nikki asked her boyfriend Artem to move in with her right after he lost his job. Brie and Bryan had an uncomfortable fight about having another kid right after their dog died. It was kind of an intense season premiere.
Was There Anything About Wrestling In This Episode Of Total Bellas?
No! There was nothing about wrestling and Daniel Bryan was only in this week’s episode for about thirty seconds when Brie FaceTimed him to say hi to her dad. Better luck next week.
A Blurry Life
Last week’s episode was split pretty evenly between the lighter Nikki/Artem storyline and the heavier Brie/Bryan one, but aside from a subplot about Nikki struggling as a homeowner and trying to bang Artem in a hardware store, this week’s Total Bellas was dedicated to the twins planning a meeting with their estranged father. Like Brie and Bryan’s drama last week, the storyline mixes run-of-the-mill reality show scene set-ups and some fake-sounding lines with human drama that seems to come from a real place. The result is a weirdly compelling, kind of concerning A-story that looks like it’s going to continue for at least another week.
The drama’s inciting action is that Nikki and Brie are working on their autobiography (they openly say “working with a ghostwriter”) and they need to run the chapter about their childhood by their parents. Nikki hasn’t seen her dad in five years and really wants to reconnect with him but thinks she would have to hide the reunion from her mom and sister. But secrecy goes out the window when, while meeting with their mom, Kathy, about the chapter, Brie reveals she has actually seen their dad pretty recently, encouraged by Bryan. Kathy is not a fan of this!
The Kathy material in this episode is an odd mix of obviously artificial (her one-on-one scenes with Brie and JJ) (I did not miss JJ) (He doesn’t really do anything here) and, in her talking heads, serious and pretty compelling stuff. While the twins sound like they’ve forgiven their dad and describe his past pretty vaguely, mentioning their parents fighting and an unspecified addiction, Kathy provides details that make it sound like she may have been dealing with domestic violence. She talks about how she would make a budget to see if she could leave the Bellas’ dad, Jon, and make it on her own, but stayed until “the final straw was my kids got involved.” It’s actually Jon who ends up describing his past in the most damning way; at dinner with Nikki, Bella, and Artem, he outright says that after he went cold turkey “I promised to my god that I would never hurt another woman again.”
The drama feels crazy, but not in the trademark reality TV sense of, like, Aviva Drescher throwing her prosthetic leg on the Real Housewives, but like maybe we shouldn’t be seeing it in the E! format. The presentation of the show says “Hey, I’m a reality show where a pair of twins are going to get pregnant at the same time!”, but then it hits you with these nuggets of seriousness, but then it doesn’t really dig for them because it’s a reality show where a pair of twins are going to get pregnant at the same time. The tone of the show means that I really have no idea how Nikki and Brie visiting their dad (who seems credible reformed in this episode) and his new family in Mexicali next week is going to play out!
Bella Lines Of The Week
- Nikki tells Artem that “Someone once said that Brie and I look like the eels from – what is it? – The Little Mermaid?”
- Nikki gets like halfway to George Berkely when she and Artem walk by a blocked-off tree on her new street and she asks, “Wait, what’s the joke? When the tree fell was it quiet or loud? Can you tell?”
- Another from Nikki: “Can you mail to Mexico from here?”
- Nikki mentions that she thinks she got her “no filter” from her dad, and you can really hear it when he looks at Artem’s tattoo and says “What do you have for a tattoo. A skeleton.” (His tattoo is not of a skeleton.)
- Jon straight-up askes Artem “Is your relationship with her real?”
John Cena Dig Of The Week
Nikki reflects in a talking head segment that she thinks Artem is “the first man I’ve really trusted. He just has this calming energy.” Are we meant to infer that John Cena does not have calming energy? Really? This man? I find that hard to believe!