I took a break from “Total Bellas” last week to dry my tears and sit in front of a full-spectrum lamp. That’s how depressing it is to watch the televised breakdown of Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson.
I’m going to cut the E! Network a break here. In theory, “Total Bellas” should be “Total Divas”
on steroids in violation of the Wellness Policy. But clever producing can only do so much to dress up real life, and it’s clear that during the time “Total Bellas” was filming, life was peak terrible for the Branielsons and the extended Bella clan.
Most of the episodes 4 and 5 deals with Bryan’s gradual breakdown (if you can see Daniel Bryan break down in tears and not have all the feels, I’m sorry, but you are dead inside), but there’s so much more! Nikki is upset that Brie has changed since getting married, Brie is mourning the fact that she can’t retire the way she wants to because she’s dealing with her husband’s mental health crisis, Bryan and Nikki are having shouting matches about materialism, Mama Bella is struggling with body issues left over from her emotionally abusive first marriage.
Even the good news is colored with bad; brother JJ and his wife Lauren announce they’re pregnant, then JJ immediately begins to question whether he can be a good father since his own dad was such a trainwreck, and on the eve of Mama Bella’s wedding to John Laurinaitis, it’s revealed that she’s found a lump in her breast and has been putting off going to the doctor.
So. Because this is a feel-good column and I’d like to protect all you nice folks who just came here looking for Titus O’Neil cameos and instead are now getting teary-eyed about the too-soon end of Daniel Bryan’s in-ring career, here instead of a full recap is a list of Every Funny Thing That Happened On Total Bellas Over The Last Two Weeks.
- Nikki and Brie research the meaning of “onomatopoeia.” At one point, Nikki pronounces it “onomatopeanut.”
- The Bellas make their mom do wind sprints in the back yard. She starts off strong but ends up swearing (as happens with so many things in the Bella family as far as I can tell).
- Nikki’s “dog,” Winston, eats his own waste. Repeatedly. And then Brie forgets and kisses him on the mouth.
- Bryan apologizes for saying Nikki isn’t humble, explaining, “We just have different opinions on what humility is.” (Note: According to Bryan, John Cena is humble.)
- Mama Bella admits she’s not 100 percent sure how to spell “Laurinaitis,” which, of course, is about to be her last name.
- Nikki responds to concerns about her ability to open a bottle of Champagne by explaining that she served a lot of “Shutter Home” when she was a Hooters girl.
- Brie gets white girl wasted and introspective. Let’s call it Nietzsche Mode.
- Multiple uncomfortable moments for JJ Bella related to various outfits worn by his mother and sisters, including one that prompts an intoxicated Brie to lecture JJ and Johnny about how men have nipples, too.
- Mama Bella is ambushed by a very awkward male stripper.
- At Mama Bella’s bachelorette dinner, everyone gets wasted and goes swimming in their underwear, after which Nikki loses her towel in the hotel lobby.
- John Cena goes full Cena on Winston the baby dog, who is just learning to go down stairs. When Mama Bella suggests Winston get a treat for successfully navigating the patio steps, Cena proclaims, “The treat is being able to conquer the steps.”
- At the patio firepit, Nikki cautions Johnny to “be careful not to blow (his) face on fire,” after which Johnny very nearly blows his face on fire.
Finally, 13. JJ, Nikki and John Cena go to one of those places where you drink wine and learn how to paint. They’re supposed to be painting a picture obviously selected either by or for Nikki: A pair of Louboutin-shod legs against a striped sunset. Nikki completes the assignment appropriately. JJ finishes his like a Jackson Pollock. And Cena goes a little bit off book.
“OK, this is kinda complex,” he says, presenting his painting. “It’s gonna take a little bit of explanation. The circle is the circle of life which, although at some points it tends to be broken, will forever continue. This is a hammer crushing two lemons to signify that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade … and I put a white flower signifying, like, peace and growth … showing that if given enough time, life can grow anywhere.”
Then they pose for a group photo and John makes fun of Nikki’s fake smile, for which she calls him a dick.
Which, incidentally, is also what he painted.