Television and Pop Culture Criticism

Following is an excerpt from a piece by our geek culture editor and dweeb overlord, Corwin Scott Gibson. Originally published in The Atomic Elbow, Issue 10, June 2014.

The time I kinda almost sort-of-crashed the probably real wedding of Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella

It is at this point that I have to bring up the very large elephant in the room that has existed from the show’s inception: Is Total Divas a work?

I’ve scoured message boards, more terrible wrestling sites, Bleacher Report, Yahoo Answers, everything, and I find that from the very beginning, people have asked this question.

It’s silly that I am only now thinking about it.

See, I have friends and family who have been on reality shows, and I assume most of us by now know that at least some portion of all reality shows is staged or scripted. House Hunters? 100% fake. The house the couple “decides” on in the end was actually already chosen and/or purchased before the show was shot. Room Raiders? Kinda fake. For one thing, the date that the winner is supposed to go on with the titular raider never occurs.

Ever since wrestling came out and began freely admitting it was all a work in the 1990s, there’s been a strange line that companies like WWE, WCW and TNA have straddled in an attempt to keep us engaged with the product. The late 90s became the era of “worked shoots.” The plan since then seems to be, “Keep Them Guessing.”

And sometimes? Yeah, it works. It does garner interest. Sometimes it doesn’t, because some of us will just assume that every single thing is fake.

So now you have this reality show coming out of a company built entirely on staged fighting, made-up names, fake birthplaces, exaggerated heights and weights, fictional occupations and scripted feuds between people who actually go fishing together.

I have to be honest here: It had not quite occurred to me that perhaps every single aspect of Total Divas (a show that, again, I have not seen an entire episode of) and, by default, this wedding, was fake.

If that’s the case, then should I feel any guilt at all about being where I was, when I was (other than getting in the way of people just doing their jobs)?