Here’s the deal. Never has a TV show seemed more like a parody of a TV show. The first time I saw an ad for the new reality show, Splash, I thought it had to be a joke. I figured that perhaps it was just a typo for NBC’s drama Smash. But it wasn’t. It was all too real.
According to ABC, “Splash marks the first time 10 celebrities will train and compete in regulation platform and springboard diving at dizzying heights in front of a weekly poolside audience.” Really? How can this be? It feels like there have been dozens of times when ten celebrities have trained and competed in regulation platform and springboard diving at dizzying heights in front of a weekly poolside audience in the past. It can’t be just me. Come on, you’ve seen ten celebrities training and competing in regulation platform and springboard diving at dizzying heights in front of a weekly poolside audience before, haven’t you? The idea is so fantastic it must have been done before.
And what “celebrities” are featured plummeting to the water from dozens of inches in the air? How about Drake Bell, Rory Bushfield, Ndamukong Suh, and Katherine Webb just to name a few? Impressed? You should be. Because, yes, it’s that Rory Bushfield. Of Rory Bushfield fame. World renowned for doing those things which he is famous for doing. And Katherine Webb? Fantastic. ABC rants that she “finished in the top ten of Miss USA 2012.” That’s it. That’s enough to get her on a reality show. But, hey, if finishing in the top twenty percent of a competition people stopped watching twenty years ago isn’t the definition of fame, I don’t know what is.
Yes, it’s pretty sad when your big gun is Louie Anderson. ABC brags that Anderson is famous for his “memorable role” in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Don’t remember that memorable role? Maybe that’s because he is essentially an extra, appearing on camera for less than fifteen seconds and not saying a word. I’m not sure how ABC defines “memorable,” but I’m sure that future generations will look back in admiration at the memorable debut of Splash.
But the most alarming thing about this show is not that it consists solely of a bunch of D list celebrities jumping into water, but that 8.8 million people tuned in for the first episode. Seriously. Close to nine million Americans sat down on whatever night this show airs and thought to themselves, “I have nothing better to do than to watch Rudy from The Cosby Show fall into a swimming pool.”
And I’ve seen another ad for it this week in which some woman stands, poolside, crying. What’s the drama here? Does she have an intense fear of not being dry? Was her family murdered by a rogue band of diving boards and she’s being forced to relive that trauma? Or did she just now learn that her agent signed her up to “star” on Splash?
We can’t let the networks continue to water down television like this. You’re telling them that you’ll be willing to watch even the least famous among us do anything if it’s made to slightly resemble a competition. At this rate, next fall we’ll be watching Andrew Dice Clay and Brigitte Nielsen battle to be the greatest department store cost cutter in Slash, Lindsay Lohan and Dustin Diamond struggling to be the world’s greatest celebrity short order cook in Hash, or Carrot Top vs. Erik Estrada in the greatest reality facial hair growing competition of all time – Mustache. And, sadly, all of these jokes seem like a better idea than Splash.