ABC has a new show called “Splash.” Perhaps you saw it. I didn’t mean to, but it was happening right next to me and it was kind of like a car wreck.
Near as I could tell, what happens is, Louie Anderson does a slow free-fall off a diving platform, watched by a live audience who are in rapt attention and, in some cases, covering their mouths in fear. When he gets out of the pool, Joey Lawrence interviews him. (What the hell happened to Joey Lawrence, by the way?) Then Louie walks over somewhere a few feet away and Charissa Thompson (from ESPN2. Not ESPN… ESPN2) interviews him. This is all very serious, as if he just competed for a gold medal in the Olympics. Then he faces a former Olympic diver and a dive team instructor, and they give him scores. Totally seriously. And then a tweet pops up on the screen from a random person saying she’s glad diving is finally getting some attention because it’s so crazy hard to do.
And I believe that. I believe that actual diving, in which you point your toes and do a bunch of flips and twists and stuff, and you try to enter the water while creating as little splash as possible, is difficult to do.
So after that, Katherine Webb comes out. I immediately have my doubts because she’s wearing a bathing suit that would definitely, definitely come off if I wore it and dove from a 10-meter platform. Who is Katherine Webb? you wonder quietly to yourself. She’s the girlfriend of a college quarterback, and also Miss Alabama, made more famous by Bret Musberger’s compliment of her looks on live TV as she sat in the stands at her boyfriend’s bowl game than by her crowning as Miss Alabama.
Anyway, so she dives, which is kind of impressive because she does a backflip. And keeps the bathing suit on. But her score for that is somehow lower than Louie Anderson’s freefall.
They interview her. Somehow her makeup has not run down her face. Her conversation with Charissa Thompson is like Hot Brunette With Wet Hair Talks To Hot Blonde With Dry Hair. Ratings gold in the male 14-Dead demographic.
Then some guy who’s a trick skier or something comes out in trunks and he’s all cut and muscley, and he does a dive with a couple flips and a couple twists and somehow his score is only a little higher than Louie Anderson’s.
Then out comes – are you ready for this? – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He’s wearing a purple robe and he looks, I swear, like some kind of wizard. For some reason he is not wearing his goggles, which is weird because he wore them to play ball but apparently does not think he needs them to swim. He dives off the kind of diving board we’re all familiar with – the bouncy kind that’s not high off the water. And he totally belly-flops.
Admittedly, I crack up laughing.
But I cannot believe this is where we’ve gone as a society. This is entertainment now? Watching Louie Anderson plummet off a slab into a pool in (thank God) a full body bathing suit?
Look, we’re writers. We all know “reality” television sucks ass. It started more than 20 years ago (gah) with the first Real World on MTV and it’s been a long, steady progression into hell since. But now we are seriously entertaining ourselves watching a fat guy and a midget (a midget, people) do dives?
And yes, I totally resorted to assholery in my description in the previous sentence, but do you know why? Because that’s what ABC did in casting them. You put Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Louie Anderson and Chuy Bravo in a diving “competition” with Katherine Webb and Rory Bushfield (the extreme skier), you’re totally going for the Some Of These Folks Are Not Like the Others vibe. Unabashedly.
So if you watch the show and enjoy the spectacle of the comparative figures… you’re an asshole, too.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there’s no charity fundraising involved or anything. It’s really just like watching the folks at your community pool try to dive, but with cameras and lights.
Who came up with this idea? Who sat in a board room and said, “Okay, here it is. Ready? So great. Okay. So. We take these D-list celebrities, right? I mean people you haven’t seen in decades. Sometimes people you’ve never even heard of, right? And we have them dive into a pool.”
And the exec said, “…And?”
And the idea guy said, “…Isn’t it awesome?”
And then they made the show.
In other news, ABC has announced that its next show will feature camera crews watching me get out of bed every morning, just in case I fall down.