Should I Watch "WWE Tough Enough"?

Slate's Culture Blog
May 12 2011 4:57 PM

Should I Watch "WWE Tough Enough"?

What is it?
WWE Tough Enough is a USA Network reality contest designed to find the next World Wrestling Entertainment superstar. Host Stone Cold Steve Austin and trainers Trish Stratus, Booker T, and Bill Demott put the 14 wannabes through grueling training sessions, drills, and skills challenges to decide who is tough enough to make it to the WWE big time.

You'll like it if you enjoy seeing sausage made.
WWE Tough Enough, like The Next Food Network Star, HGTV Design Star, or I Wanna Be a Soap Star, does double duty, providing entertaining programming and reminding viewers how difficult the job of a WWE diva or dude is. They need athleticism, acting skills, strength and conditioning, and they need to invent and display a personality that viewers will respond to.

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You won't like it if you can't stand to see people puke.
There's a lot of talk about commitment in the course of every episode. Mostly that seems to mean demanding that the contestants run, jump, or body-slam until they lose their high-protein lunch.

You'll like it if you're drawn to potty-mouthed tough guys and enigmatic divas.
Stone Cold Steve Austin and his band of muscle-bound trainers are a demanding but likable bunch of rogues. Their elimination decisions make sense even if--like me--you know nothing about the WWE universe.Their swearing is so creative that it can be a challenge to figure out what profanities were bleeped. Trish Stratus' job is "to bring out the toughness in female contestants, cultivate the showmanship of male contestants, and of course, give Tough Enough some world-class sex appeal." Mission accomplished.

You won't like it if you can't stand violence.
Tough Enough doesn't try to disguise the fact that WWE bouts are choreographedthe ability to learn the moves and repeat them convincingly is a key skill. That doesn't mean it isn't frighteningly physical. It's hard not to look away when the skills challenges pair one of the undersized female contestants with a bulked-up dude. The cry of "Medic!" is heard with some regularity.

You don't need to be a Wrestle Maniac to enjoy the show.
Most weeks the contestants are visited by WWE superstars who share tasty nuggets of advice with the wannabes. It doesn't much matter if you couldn't pick these wrestling greats out of a police lineup, their tips are just asgenericthank you, Rey Mysterio, for advising that "You've got to pour yourheart out to what you love doing"whether or not you know how many Royal Rumbles they won.

Previous installments:
Should I Watch RuPaul's Drag Race?

ShouldI Watch Being Erica?
ShouldI Watch Harry's Law?
ShouldI Watch Make It or Break It?

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June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

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