WWE Total Divas
Season 5 – Episode 11
“Clothes Quarters”

This week’s episode of Total Divas, entitled Clothes Quarters, has some Easter eggs for fans of other reality television shows. Unfortunately, that appears to be a tradeoff for the fact that if you’re actually a fan of Total Divas, there’s very little to recommend this particular installment in the adventures of (some of) the women of WWE.

On the one hand, this is a good thing in that we are spared yet another week of poorly-acted Rosa Mendes baby daddy drama and nonsensical Alicia Fox shenanigans. In fact, other than a brief scene of Paige having a full-body joygasm over something called a “pizza grilled cheese,” these three regulars are completely absent from the episode. (In Paige’s defense, pizza grilled cheese sounds amazing.)

On the other hand, also missing is Eva Marie, which is too bad, since watching her rebirth as a person who actually cares about being good at wrestling has been less annoying this season. And what are we given in exchange? A two-storyline episode built largely around Mandy.

You remember Mandy, right? No? Apparently neither does anybody; there’s a scene of the entire Neidhart family repeatedly asking “Who’s Mandy?” while actually on vacation with Mandy’s family.

Yes, it’s Tough Enough runner-up Amanda Saccomanno, who inexplicably replaced the actually entertaining Trinity “Naomi” Fatu and her gang of Usos as a Total Divas cast member this season, who gets much of the screen time in this week’s episode, along with her loud Hudson Valley Italian family, which is a lot like Eva Marie’s loud Northern California Italian family except that you care even less about them because not only have you never met the family before, you still barely know who the daughter is.

I should add here that I don’t fault Mandy for any of this. She seems like a nice girl and she’s just seizing the opportunities that are put in front of her. If WWE Brass Ring Distributor Mark Carrano called me tomorrow and told me I was being added to the cast of Total Divas, I’d grab, too, and then there’d be some rando out there writing recaps about how nobody cared about my character, either, but that wouldn’t stop my check from clearing.

Last week, Natalya accidentally invited the entire Saccomanno family on a planned Neidhart family vacation to Sanibel Island, Florida. Mandy is planning to use the trip as a parent trap to force her recently separated folks to reconcile. Nattie, meanwhile, is just worried about when and how Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart will do something to embarrass her in front of Mandy’s family (and several hundred thousand television viewers, down from a peak viewership of 1.67 million in Season 1 and a Season 5 premiere viewership of 1.15 million).

“My dad is a loose cannon,” Nattie explains. “He’s very unpredictable.”

When the Neidharts and the Saccomannos face off in a dragon boat race, The Anvil fears he’ll be less like a loose cannon and more like an anchor.

“I mean, is this canoe made for a 330-pound wrestler?” he asks Nattie.

“If it tips over, we just get out and walk,” she replies. Then, after remembering how boats work: “Swim.”

Despite a team cheer and facepaint that pays homage to Uncle Bret, when the paddles hit the water, it’s Mandy’s family that walks away with a decisive victory. Probably largely because the Neidharts have to carry the weight of a 330-pound wrestler; The Anvil sits quietly in the dragon boat, never even lifting his oar.

“This is a really bad representation of the Neidharts,” Nattie rants. “And this family runs a deli. You’re talking about people that played in the NFL, that have been in the WWE for decades — what the hell are these civilians doing whipping our asses?”

Meanwhile, Mandy is trying and failing to suggest to her parents that they just get over their differences and get back together, a mostly passive effort that takes up way too much of the episode considering there can’t possibly be one single viewer who is actually invested in this group of total strangers. It culminates in a tearful family meeting in which everyone accepts that Mandy’s parents are better off going their own respective ways.

More importantly, Nattie manages not to be embarrassed by her dad, although there is a moment when she’s nervous that he’s going to assault a masseur who is paying a little too much attention to Mama Neidhart’s lower back.

“Can you imagine Mandy’s family walking in while my dad is, like, maybe body slamming this massage therapist? That could be really bad for everyone,” Nattie vents. “That could get us, definitely, on CNN.”

Fortunately, it doesn’t.

While drama is busy not unfolding on the world’s strangest family vacay, the Bella Twins are in New York City, thinking once again about life after WWE, a refrain that might seem benign enough to viewers who don’t follow WWE news but is darkly prophetic considering the recent developments in the professional lives of the twins and their male companions.

“WWE isn’t going to be forever,” Brie explains, in a segment that was presumably filmed long before she realized just how soon she’d be leaving the active roster.

There’s not much talk about career-ending injuries and early retirements on Total Divas this week, though; instead, the Bellas are focused on underwear. They want to start a lingerie company called BirdieBee (a play on the birds and the bees, they explain later), and of course, as always, they have two very different perspectives on how things should work. Brie wants them to handle all the design and production themselves, while Nikki wants to hire professionals who actually know how to do things like design and produce.

“What are you going to do, rent a sewing kit and just sew it?” she asks Brie. “Honestly, it’s laughable.”

Brie’s well-reasoned reply: “You’re laughable.”

Since this is reality TV, her solution is to channel Tim Gunn.

“We’re headed to Mood!” she announces.

Yes, off the Bellas go to the fabric store made famous by Project Runway, where they sit down for a sewing lesson. Brie has printed a “pattern” off the Internet (Surprise! It’s not really a pattern, and she still needs a Mood employee to draw her one) and sets about half-sewing a janky pair of boy shorts. It is a predictably abysmal failure akin to almost any time Project Runway contestants have been tasked with designing menswear.

Back in the car, Nikki rips into Brie about what it takes to actually build a business.

“You work with people who know what they’re doing. Professionals,” she rails. “You’re like dressing up a kid (and) taking them to a business meeting, pretending to listen.”

After a meeting with entrepreneur Kara Ross of Diamonds Unleashed (a brand for which the Bellas are “ambassadors”) and having her naive goal to “do it Etsy-style” adjusted for reality by someone who is not Nikki, Brie finally admits that her sister is right, just in time for another crossover moment: the Bellas’ private Shark Tank sesh with Fubu founder Daymond John.

Daymond (whose headquarters are in the Empire State Building) works at a conference table in his office, which is so baller that I’m actually rearranging my own office in a similar fashion at this very moment. He sits quietly during the Bellas’ pitch for a lingerie company that “gives back” by donating a product to a woman in need for every purchase made.

“Imma be very honest: When I heard that you wanted to come and talk, I was like ‘No, not really,'” Daymond says after listening to a rough overview of the BirdieBee concept. “Honestly, this thing is, um — I’m pleasantly surprised because I haven’t really heard of — this is kind of like a Lululemon game changer because it educates and it’s actually doing good.”

Yes, let’s all suspend our disbelief and pretend that a man who built a $6 billion sportswear empire has literally never heard of a single business using the “One for One” model popularized — and trademarked, FFS — by TOMS Shoes.

Thus impressed by the world’s most original business model, Daymond calls in his lead designer to sketch some concepts, and it seems the Bellas’ dream of being do-gooding underwear models is on its way to reality. (It must be; they have a website, or at least a landing page, and a Facebook page with 33 likes as of 20 hours after the episode aired.)

Enthused by their pending success, Brie and Nikki prance off to lunch, where they celebrate with Champagne and even kind of clearing the air of that whole “I wish you had died in the womb” business.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to share the womb with anyone else,” Brie tells her sister. “Even though you took up the majority of the room.”