In some ways, reality television went through the same metamorphosis professional wrestling did. At one point, viewers took a look at shows like The Real World and Survivor and assumed what they saw contained a greater degree of organic, non-fabricated events than traditional scripted television. Nowadays, hardly anyone is clueless enough to think reality shows are any more based in reality than Twin Peaks or The X-Files.
So it’s fitting that one of the final success stories of reality television’s heyday just so happened to be Hulk Hogan. Hogan Knows Best ran for four seasons from 2005 to 2007, garnered respectable ratings, then ended with a real life divorce and a completely legitimate eight months in prison for Hogan’s youngest son Nick, due to a drunk driving accident that left his passenger servery injured. Seven years later, Hogan’s own reputation took a major hit when, on a secretly filmed sex tape, got caught flaunting a racist epithet during a tirade about his daughter’s sex life. Hulk Hogan has had a very weird life.
However, if you watch Hogan Knows Best, signs of looming chaos abound. Scenes on the show and even bits and pieces of its lurid aftermath that look benign on the surface are telling of some major unresolved issues. The program itself was basically The Osbournes lite – Hogan was about as goofy and seemingly brain damaged as Ozzy, but his wife and kids lacked the charisma of Sharon, Jack, and Kelly Osbourne. Thus, Hogan Knows Best played out as lifestyle adult entertainment disguised as a reality sitcom with cameos from professional wrestlers. In many way, it was the dry run for the even more boring Total Divas.
Hopefully we won’t have to write a “Red Flags We Should’ve Noticed From Total Divas” after some calamitous upheaval in the lives of the Bella Twins makes us want to look back for signs that something was deeply amiss. But for now, here are 15 aspects from or related to Hogan Knows Best that quietly let us know all was not well.
15. Hulk Hogan Refers to Himself as “Hulk” in His Own Home, While Conversing With Wife and Kids
Very early on in Hogan Knows Best, there’s a scene in which Brooke is asking if she can go out on a date and during his objection, Hogan announces “…Or my name isn’t Hulk Hogan.” Imagine the same scenario played out as Shatner Knows Best, with William shouting “Or my name isn’t Captain Kirk!”
Remember how The Ultimate Warrior legally changed his name to “Warrior” and everyone thought he was out of his mind for getting reality and fantasy so completely mixed up? Right in the beginning of Hogan Knows Best, we’re presented with evidence that Hogan isn’t too far away from mirroring Warrior’s delusions.
14. Before The Show, The Hulkster Hadn’t Been Around Much
A few times during the first handful of Hogan Knows Best episodes, Hogan admits he hasn’t necessarily been present for a good portion of Brooke and Nick’s lives. Such is common for wrestlers, athletes, musicians, and plenty of other entertainers who make their living traveling from city to city. But was it fair for The Hulkster to expect his family to treat him like an alpha-authority figure after years of physical absenteeism? From a financial standpoint – absolutely. From an emotional standpoint – Eh, that’s trickier. Maybe it’s no coincidence that the Hogans divorced after Hulk’s retirement – it’s possible it was easier for them to stay married when they weren’t necessarily around each other very often.
13. Brian Knobbs Became the New Brutus Beefcake
It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly this happened, but at some point, it appears Brian Knobbs replaced Brutus Beefcake as Hogan’s best hanger-on sycophant buddy who wouldn’t have a job in the wrestling – or in this case, entertainment business – were it not for his ability to kiss up to Hogan. Hanger-on sycophants are never good news – these are the type of people who encouraged Elvis and Michael Jackson to take more downers and, for that matter, had it not been for former Hogan hanger-on Bubba The Love Sponge, the sex tape that ultimately ruined The Hulkster’s career never would have existed.
Sometime after Hogan Knows Best, Brooke Knows Best, and The Nasty Boys’ regrettable run in TNA, Knobbs demonstrated less-than stellar judgement by running afoul of New Jack. Guess how that panned out (NSFW)?
12. Brooke Can’t Eat Cookies
The Hulkster’s overbearing influence of his daughter’s life and career needn’t be dwelled upon – it’s basically a running storyline throughout Hogan Knows Best. However, Hogan clamps down to a particularly damaging degree in the first season’s third episode when he takes the reigns of Brooke’s music career. Of course he paid for everything and made all Brooke’s industry connections for her, but his focus on her appearance could cross over into problematic areas. Just sayin’ – that one scene where he shames her out for almost eating a cookie? That’s how a million anorexia cases start, I’ll betcha.
Then again, we can’t blame Hogan too much for assuming the music industry works more-or-less the same way wrestling did in the ‘80s. Speaking of….
11. Brooke’s “Music” “Career”
During season one, it’s made clear that Brooke Hogan is a better than average piano player and singer – so it’s plausible that she might’ve had a chance at doing something a bit more substantial and sustainable with music had she not tried so hard to become the new Britney Spears. The world didn’t really need a new Britney Spears in 2005. It still doesn’t, in fact. We’ve already got one. And she’s pretty great! She went through a bit of a rough patch about 15 years ago, but she’s okay now! We don’t need a replacement, thanks.
10. Hogan’s Creepy and Controlling With Nick, Too
It’s been speculated that there was something vaguely incestuous going on between Hogan and Brooke. As the Superficial writer pointed out, everyone was so focused on Hogan’s use of the n-bomb during his now infamous sex tape rant, no one wondered why in the world he’d want to talk about his daughter’s romances minutes after doing the deed with his lame buddy’s wife.
But – we suspect Hogan’s arguably excessive interest in Brooke’s life is closer to that of a garden variety control freak, as opposed to inappropriately amorous. He displays a similar degree of boundary-smashing with Nick’s romantic career in episode two. Jealous of all the time Nick is spending with his girlfriend, Hogan opts to set him up with a slightly older, more, um, physically advanced woman, showing him what he could have if he breaks it off with what’s-her-name, who clearly doesn’t want to be on this TV show anyway.
9. Hogan Has Terrible Taste In Music
Granted, you can’t always tell much about a person by the type of music they like. In fact, plenty of people with superb tastes in music happen to be awful. Meanwhile, some Taylor Swift fans are actually really nice! Who knew?!
But we must all ask ourselves – what kind of man in his 50s owns and wears a Sublime T-shirt? Hogan’s apparent appreciation for Aerosmith is a little forgivable, only because an affinity for the “Bad Boys Of Boston” (Who are not boys, haven’t lived in Boston for decades, but are indeed bad if we’re using the traditional meaning) seems age-appropriate. But there is never an excuse for liking Sublime.
8. Linda Hogan’s Dubious Stability
For the most part, Linda Hogan got overshadowed by her more active children and celebrity husband during her VH1 tenure. When she does show up and do stuff, she’s either shopping, accusing city officials of perjury, or making eyes at her personal trainer. (and yes, the episode with the trainer is pretty ironic considering some events in Hulk and Linda’s life that occurred after the show). Nonetheless – y’know how whenever a serial killer or mass murderer gets arrested, their neighbors always tell the newspapers how “quiet” and “normal” they seemed? Linda Hogan seems “quiet” and “normal,” at least by comparison, on Hogan Knows Best.
Since their divorce, Linda Hogan has called her ex-husband a manipulative, abusive sociopath. Hogan has called Linda delusional. Probably, they’re both telling the truth.
Linda Hogan’s current online presence paints a picture of a profoundly conflicted human being – and not just because she’s still using her ex-husbands surname eight years after leaving him.
By itself, there’s certainly nothing wrong with her animal rights activism (Some within the animal rights community may respectfully disagree that attempting to guilt and shame people into veganism and adopting shelter pets is the most effective way to spread the message, but that’s another article for another website). But she also regularly retweets openly fascist presidential candidate Donald Trump. What kind of person with near-obsessive compassion for animals wants to elect a president with little-to-no compassion for humans? A person who hired a pretty good divorce lawyer, apparently.
7. When Hogan Sees Black People, He Just Assumes They’re Rapping
While spying on his daughter, The Hulkster observed a handful of black males had joined a small spontaneous party Brooke threw at his beach house during the season two premiere. He and Brian Knobbs – along for the ride in Hogan’s boat – immediately assumed the black gentlemen were rapping, despite complaining that their audio equipment had rendered all Brooke’s guests inaudible. Coincidentally, her guests were engaged in an impromptu rap performance, but just because Hogan happened to the be correct doesn’t make the event any less of an indicator of the racism he would unleash years later.
6. Linda and Brooke Freak Out Watching SummerSlam ‘05 – Confuse Hulkster For Mick Foley
In the eighth episode of season two, Linda and Brooke watch Hulk Hogan’s now controversial match against Shawn Michaels. Based on their reactions, you’d think they were Colette, Noelle, and Dewey Foley watching Mankind vs. The Rock in 1999.
Don’t get us wrong – we’re not implying Hogan hasn’t sacrificed his body to the pagan god of pro wrestling significantly less than anyone else and his family’s concerns about his long term health are entirely valid. But, I mean, c’mon, in this specific 20 minute match, Hogan probably took three or four bumps and bladed while leaving the heavy lifting almost entirely to Michaels. It’s a red flag because it leads us to wonder whether or not Brooke Hogan has actually seen all that many wrestling matches – otherwise, she’d recognize her father was in comparatively little peril.
5. Hulk Hogan Isn’t Funny
It’s a little bizarre Hogan Knows Best wound up lasting for as long as it did. There’s no real reason why the Hogans make better subjects for a reality show than any other brood with a famous patriarch. More than a few episodes – the season one finale, in particular – hinge around the notion that Hulk Hogan is a funny guy or that there should be something especially amusing about a wrestler raising teenage children. But there isn’t. Why should we – the audience – find it hilarious that Hulk Hogan is bad at golf or looks out of place at Brooke’s pilates class? Hogan Knows Best is the television equivalent of Mr. Nanny – Hulk Hogan wearing a tutu is a situation and it could be the set up for a joke, but it’s not a punchline. Imaginary fighting made Hogan a star, but, but he could never replicate the success by telling imaginary jokes.
4. Linda Gets Pretty Weird About Her Animals, Which Isn’t That Abnormal, But Still…
The Hulkster’s ex-wife’s tantrum in front of Bel Air City Hall stands out as the biggest freak out of season one – even if, maybe, she had a good reason to be upset. If we take the show at face value, it seems plausible her neighbors were more upset about the sudden influx of television crews on their street than Linda’s lack of adherence to town bylaws.
Still, wasn’t it odd that at one point, she referred to their rooster as “it?” What kind of person who’s emotionally attached to his or her pets doesn’t talk about them using gendered pronouns and thus address their pets as objects? And why is the rooster named “Lilly,” when rooster’s are, by definition, male?
The only textbook sign of animal hoarding we can discern in Linda via TV and internet info is her apparent contempt for traditional animal shelters – liberally referred as “death rows” on her Twitter page – which is kind of unfair and over-simplifying the problem of dog and cat overpopulation (neuter your pets, people), but technically true. And even if Linda was a big ol’ mentally unstable hoarder, she’d still have plenty of money to take care of however many animals she adopted, which is the best case scenario for all those animals even if their human is kind of nuts. Still, Linda’s thing with animals is weird, okay? It is a red flag.
3. Brooke and Nick Are Obviously Doomed
Watching Hogan Knows Best, it’s easy to envy the Hogan spawn – they’re effectively millionaires for reasons that have nothing to do with their own merits, they’re obviously conventionally good looking enough to be on a VH1 reality show, and no one has ever told either of them that they’re bad at anything. And sure, invulnerability to financial hardship of any kind must be nice. The problem with individuals like Brooke and Nick – emblems of hyper-entitled millennials, in a way – is they’re left unequipped to cope with unfavorable real life events of any kind.
2. Hulk Hogan Is Also Obviously Doomed
The once mighty, impervious Hulkster pretty much morphs into a hen-pecking stage mom throughout Hogan Knows Best. Typical helicopter parents pushing their kids into show business are often accused of living vicariously through their kids to compensate for insecurity with their own accomplishments. But by this point in history, Hogan is the most famous wrestler of all time. If that wasn’t enough to let him feel accomplished and satisfied with his professional career, then nothing will. Parading his family around on reality TV and turning them into quasi-celebrities won’t do the trick. Every endorsement deal in the world won’t matter. Not even everyone forgiving him for his ugly comments during the secret sex time can ever fill the void.
1. It Should’ve Been Sheik Knows Best
The Sheik actually is funny – even if oftentimes off color. Imagine the Sheik documentary, except a television series in which the Sheik battles jabronies while going about his daily routine.
At the end of the day, maybe The Sheik should’ve accepted Greg Gagne’s offer back in the ‘80s and broken The Hulkster’s leg to protect the business from his new cartoony vision for professional wrestling. If he had done so, perhaps today, Sheik Knows Best would be enjoying its twelfth season, although we’re guessing it would’ve gone straight to Netflix or Hulu by now.
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