(W)In Quarantine – I Watched The Big Show Show
The WWE might be a monolithic entertainment industry that bullies its audiences, takes advantage of its employees, represents the worst of capitalism, and is frustrating as often if not more often than it is entertaining. And yet, you tell me the WWE is producing a family sitcom staring one of its wrestlers, of course I’m checking it out. This is how the WWE keeps winning…
I was genuinely interested when Netflix announced The Big Show Show, staring semi-retired WWE veteran of 25 years, The Big Show. The title and the trailer sold it as a self-aware series, satirizing the corporate-mandated, stunt cast family sitcoms that I grew up on. That took a lot of pressure off the need for quality. That said, on top of being one of the most recognizable wrestlers ever -if you watched wrestling at any point since just before the nWo and Stone Cold Steve Austin wrestling revival of the 90s, you have seen The Big Show- Big Show is one of wrestling’s better actors. No wrestler can cry on command like The Big Show.
With my curiosity high and my expectations all over the place, I watched the first episode of The Big Show Show.
So… it wasn’t the self-aware satire I was hoping for. And the Big Show is not good in it.
But… it’s not terrible?
The episode dashed my expectations, being weak in the areas I was looking forward to and strong in the areas I didn’t expect. The plotting is quite impressive, and the premise, beyond “Big Show” is surprisingly modern and forward thinking.
The show opens with Lola (Reylynn Caster), the Big Show’s oldest daughter (that we know about) moving cross country to live with her dad, step-mom Cassy (Allison Munn), and step-sisters Mandy (Lily Brooks O’Briant) and J.J. (Juliet Donenfeld). The writers (show creators Josh Bycel & Jason Berger) find clever and subtle ways to illustrate how this is awkward for everyone without casting anyone as the villain. Lola’s luggage gets lost so Cassy lets her borrow hers. Instead of a “you’re not my real mom” melodramatic moment, we get an understated “I’m wearing my step-mom’s clothes” reaction. Mandy, the oldest of Cassy’s daughters, resents that she went from the big sister to the middle sister in the house and is losing her room. She resents the situation she’s in, but she doesn’t resent Lola for putting her in the situation. That isn’t to say the show is drama averse, it’s just low-hanging fruit averse. It’s also somewhat reflective of The Big Show’s real family, as he is twice married, once divorced, with one child from his first marriage and two from his second. How much creative input he had is not clear, as he doesn’t have any writing or even a producing credit.
The acting is what it is, not great but appropriate for a family sitcom. There are a lot of lines that feel like they would be funny but the delivery is flat. The real humour is in a lot of the strange choices they made, like having the Big Show’s wife call him Show, even in a tender moment, or that said wife’s plot in the first episode is trying to sell a haunted house. Flat out haunted, there are references to what the ghost has been doing to visitors. Given that this is supposed to take place in a universe where The Big Show had the same WWE career as we did, and it’s not clear whether wrestling is real in the universe of The Big Show Show, if The Undertaker can be an actual zombie who shoots lightning, ghosts can be real.
The Big Show Show is not a train wreck. It’s not even bad, which unfortunately takes away its appeal as ironic entertainment. The best way to describe it is bewitching. I enjoyed watching it as an experience and I’ve been thinking about it way more than I expected to since. I also went from thinking that watching just the first episode would be enough to wondering what episode 2 might be like. And there are only eight episodes out, so before I know it I’ll probably have watched the whole season.
Why? Well, it’s The Big Show…