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.

Go ‘Merica.



19 thoughts on “Flop.

  1. I kept waiting for the point of the show, I thought it was the lead up in a sit-com or a dream sequence or something. But I finally realized you were talking about a reality show. It was bad enough when I thought it was a joke!

    • I go back and forth about my cable. In general I dislike most of the “big four” programs, so for me, having other networks to watch is key, and I find some great stuff. But not a lot.

  2. That was on TV where I was Tuesday and most everyone there found it fascinating and watched the whole thing. That was a homeless shelter. Many of the residentss have “issues”. No offense meant to the homeless.

  3. I am totally mystified by reality TV, except of course for understanding that the networks like it because its cheap to produce. Don’t you wonder if the execs are just being on how crappy they can make a show and still have people watch it? Then again, I’ve wondered the same thing about fashion designers for years.

  4. You should approach Splash for royalties, because I’m pretty sure your post is responsible for the 14 viewers the show has. I don’t even OWN a TV and I sought it out online based on your pan.

    Admittedly, I actually WAS a competitive diver, so it wasn’t hard to sell me on the premise. My issue: I accidentally showed my tits repeatedly in a one-piece, so how they’re doing it in bikinis can only be explained by crafty editing and double-sided tape.

    Also? I’m not clear on how lawyers approved this concept. Diving is actually dangerous – I still have scars from hitting the board, and that risk only goes up when you’re on a platform. I’d like to see the waivers these contestants signed.

    Final verdict? It’s a train wreck I can’t take my eyes off.

    • Exactly! I don’t know if you realized, but the only real difference between your last sentence and my first paragraph is that I said it was a car wreck and you said it was a train wreck. I think we’re both right.

      And yes, of course it can be dangerous. I think of Greg Louganis’s head-smack every time I watch every Olympic diver. (You saw, I’m sure, that he’s involved in this debacle.) I suppose that’s why Louie Anderson just allows himself to fall off the platform instead of doing anything more willful. There was another show on Fox called “Stars In Danger.” Same concept. Two hour special, rather than a series. And ABC was already slated to run “Splash.” Which means TWO networks thought this would be good.

      Since you watched, you probably know that Katherine Webb actually did a forward somersault from a reverse standing position. So I bungled that. Now. Please show me a reverse triple-somersault two-and-a-half twist.

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