Review of Hockey Wives, Episode 8


Wendy Tippett (left to right), Emilie Blum, Kodette LaBarbera, Nicole Brown, Tiffany Parros, Noureen DeWulf, Maripier Morin, Brijet Whitney, Martine Forget, Jenny Scrivens star in "Hockey Wives." (HO-W Network/CP)

This is the first time I’ve felt real, seething envy toward any of the hockey wives.

In the opening moments of the eighth and final episode of the first season, Tiffany Parros casually announces her plans: “Today, I get together with Barbie Blank to organize her closet.”

This is the life of an actual human being. First of all, I don’t have a single friend with a name as absurdly wonderful as Barbie Blank, but then we learn that Barbie was a WWE Diva under the stage name Kelly Kelly, and we see what appears to be a Disney castle that was vomited upon by a French chateau, where Barbie Blank/Kelly Kelly lives with her fiancé, Sheldon Souray.

And somehow, the stupid detail that Tiffany is helping to organize her closet — given her apparent means, can BBKK not hire an army of sentient cartoon birds and mice to take care of this for her? — elevates the whole thing to another level.

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There are the obvious blingy lifestyle factors, but the oddest thing that stands out for me on Hockey Wives is the collectivist nature of their existence. It’s like they all live in a British boarding school together.

We see them attend each other’s product launches, help each other pack suitcases, gather maternity clothes, house-hunt, model clothing lines, simply show up for “support” at whatever event is in the offing that weekend. And now the closet organization for Kelly BB Gun Kelly.

Maybe I’m a crap friend, but I have never helped anyone pack a suitcase, and I never plan to.

The show wants to make it look like these women belong to a tight-knit sorority, so certainly some of this is scripted, but it still seems like a lot of real togetherness.

The hockey wife lifestyle looks a lot like a shrunken-down version of being a politician’s wife — lots of good causes, long lunches and quasi-genteel lady-time that is in fact soaked in booze.

The season finale — W Network announced earlier this week that the show will get a second season — feels more like a continuation of storylines than a wrap-up. And some of the storylines, frankly, are starting to wear on me.

Tiffany does not throw an axe at Maripier, shows great restraint

Tiffany goes to Toronto and once again demonstrates that she’s better at living than I am by casually announcing, “I’m going axe-throwing with the girls.”

This is a recreational thing you can just do, and I’m sure you will be shocked to discover that the proprietor of this establishment is a youngish gentleman sporting a tidy red plaid shirt with one too many buttons fastened, thick-framed glasses and a little beard.

If this place burned to the ground, Toronto would have to import more hipsters on an emergency basis from, I don’t know, Detroit? That seems like the next place they’ll go, like termites.

Anyway, Tiffany, Maripier, Kodette and Brijet go axe-throwing and are served booze while doing so, which is so fantastic, I refuse to consider the obvious stupidity of it.

Maripier turns out to be accidentally awesome at axe-throwing and cleans up the pot of money they all threw down. Now, I’m just going to save us some time by telling you that Tiffany and Maripier have a different version of the same conversation they’ve had every week about Brandon Prust, with MP insisting that being married doesn’t matter at all and oh my god it’s so annoying how everyone keeps bringing it up because it’s not something she cares about — like, at all, you guys.

And instead of throwing an axe at her, Tiffany says this, which is sort of the same thing: “That sounds like something a guy would say to convince you that you guys don’t need to get married. It sounds like you’ve been brainwashed.”

And I high-fived my laptop so hard, Tiffany felt it in Las Vegas.

Later, the women are in a bar watching George Parros on Sportsnet, and Maripier runs off at the mouth.

“MP says stupid s— all the time. I don’t think she ever means any harm. I just think she’s young and pretty and she doesn’t have kids yet, so she is a little selfish, and I don’t hold that against her,” Tiffany says.

“I was an a–hole when I was her age.” And then in another voiceover, Maripier says, “Tiff is definitely like my bigger sister. Sometimes she says things that hurts my feeling. I get mad at her for five minutes, but deep down she loves me and has my best interests at heart.”

Which, when you think about it, is a really nice exchange about real friends and knowing when to let things slide.

The scene that should be weaponized by Ryan Miller’s opponents

We get one of those “rich people do the same things we do, only better!” scenes with Noureen DeWulf and Ryan Miller, who welcome a maternity nurse into their condo to conduct a birthing class.

She thumps a giant anatomy diagram on the coffee table and Noureen mutters to her husband, “I just realized I’m going to go through this,” which is the most relatable thing she’s ever said on the show.

The nurse has Noureen submerge her hand in a bowl of ice water while Ryan coaches her through the pain, as a practice run for labour. Then the nurse decides to play the role of a woman in labour, so they know what to expect. She really, really commits to it.

The scene that came next was so awkward, so weird and vicariously embarrassing, I’m legitimately uncomfortable even recalling it.

The nurse beckons Ryan over to help her, clasps both of his hands and leans over with her head pressed against his stomach, swaying back and forth while moaning and keening. And Ryan, the last line of defence for the Vancouver Canucks, one of the elite netminders of the National Hockey League, tilts his head back toward the ceiling of his very expensive condo, grimaces like he’s just seen his kindergarten teacher on the toilet and turns a sort of greenish purple.

Which is the only possible response to this situation.

If you are the fan of a non-Vancouver hockey team, I recommend you make a GIF of this moment and find a way to run it on billboards in your city every time the Canucks come to town. That poor, poor man is going to need years of therapy.

Emilie is maybe one of those people on House Hunters International

We get the continuation of a conversation Emilie and Jonathon Blum have had before, which was weird at the time and even stranger now that she doubles down on it.

A couple of episodes ago, her defenceman husband floated the idea of playing in Europe since he’s been struggling in North America. Emilie shut him down, insisting that as a patriotic American, she doesn’t want to live in another country.

Jonathon brings up the same idea in this episode, and she repeats the same objections with a depth of feeling that suggests this isn’t manufactured TV drama.

I’ve found Emilie hugely likeable on the show, so this close-minded jingoism is hard to process. I don’t want to believe she would be one of those entitled, clueless Americans on HGTV, whining about the lack of an en-suite bathroom and granite countertops as an impeccably dressed realtor who speaks 13 languages shows her a flat in the heart of Zurich.

The conversation between them goes on, increasingly tense, with Jonathon insisting it would be a smart move and Emilie protesting that decamping to Europe would slam the door shut on his NHL dreams.

She gave up her military career to follow his, she says, and she has no idea how she’ll start up the photography business — her new life plan — if she has to live somewhere she can’t even speak the language.

“I gave up on my dream for your career, so if you give up on your dream…” Emilie says, just trailing off sadly.

So it seems what’s really happening is that Emilie let go of something that meant a lot to her to help her husband grab something he really wanted, and now she can’t let him stop chasing it or all of it was for nothing.

I started my review of the first episode of this show by suggesting the hockey wife thing is basically a hoser Kate Middleton fantasy: landing a life of privilege by way of love.

Hockey Wives as a show turned out to be much more documentary — albeit a shiny, bedazzled documentary — than Real Housewives in approach, and given the glimpses it offered inside this life, that comparison rings even more true.

Yes, fine, a lot of the anxieties and pressures articulated on the show — living in a slightly smaller McMansion, balancing work and motherhood with the help of a seven-figure income, winning one more Stanley Cup ring for your third son but not your daughter because God knows she doesn’t count yes Nicole Brown I’m still upset about that — seem petty compared to ordinary people’s real lives.

But most normal people don’t have to worry about their families being uprooted at the whim of some guy in a suit, and most women today don’t have to abandon their careers and life plans to help their husbands pursue their own dreams.

So hoser Kate Middleton it is: their hair always looks better than ours, and their shoes are more expensive, but they landed in a very tough, weird existence that’s lots of fun to look at, but I wouldn’t want to live.

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