Don’t let the name fool you: Racing Wives is more than just a collection of rich women married to inexplicably self-important men (though trust me, there is absolutely an element of that and it is fantastic). Mix a handful of the latter with a ‘Monster Girl,’ throw in a female racer and you’ve got one of the most petty, social climbing, throat-cutting gal gangs since LeeAnne Locken started screaming nonsensically about the Dallas “charity world.”
The makings of delectably addictive trash have never been stronger.
Racing Wives dives into the Charlotte-based microcosm of all things NASCAR. But frankly, it’s more like a cannonball of reality television goodness: Take Samantha, a tiny woman with not-so-tiny hair who voluntarily dresses her three-year-old son in a t-shirt sporting the slogan, “Sorry girls, I only date models.” Her husband, she’ll be the first to tell you, is a “Busch” (of Kyle Busch Motorsports, no less. Impressed yet?) Or Whitney, the former “Monster Girl” (more on that later) recently wed to Aaron Dillon (like the Busches, he’s kind of a big NASCAR deal); “WhitWhit,” as she calls herself, takes her role as ‘A WIFE’ far too seriously. Or Amber, the Winnipeg native/NASCAR wannabe who’s being swept up in all this southern passive aggression, much to her palpable confusion (or disdain? Maybe. It’s tough to tell with this crowd). Her boyfriend is busy pursuing his dream of being in the Canadian football league. Apparently, that’s a real thing.
And then, of course, there’s Mariel.
While reality shows don’t always have a protagonist (which is more than fine — half the fun is loving to hate everyone in their own special way), Racing Wives has found the perfect one in Mariel. She’s a former beauty queen who, in a possible reality-TV first, doesn’t bring it up all the time (or at all, as far as I can tell) and also isn’t a total Raquel. She’s still a Monster Girl (essentially a NASCAR cheerleader bedecked in Monster Energy branding — but Google with caution: “Monster girl” apparently means something completely different for the anime community). But she’s valiantly trying to hold onto her friendship with the newly-minted “NASCAR wife” Whitney. She doesn’t technically exactly know how to pronounce “celibate,” even though that’s what she is. And honestly, there is nothing more inspiring than watching Mariel half-heartedly elliptical with a full face of makeup.
I came into this show knowing approximately zero about NASCAR. I came out with the triumphant satisfaction of a well-spent 45 minutes, a glow of anticipation around the season to come, and nagging curiosity about the business of owning a NASCAR team (this is a good start, but I still have so many questions!)
And yes, I may have also exited with a new place in my Instagram heart for one Miss Mariel Lane.
New episodes of Racing Wives air 10pm ET Fridays on CMT; recent episodes are available on demand.