If you are watching Splash earnestly, you're doing it wrong. ABC's celebrity diving show is no game-changer to the reality genre. It's not going to dethrone The Amazing Race at the Emmys, let alone make the nominees list. Splash is terrible -- but in the most amusing way possible. It's categorically ridiculous, daffy, harmless (well, except for you, Chuy), lighthearted, addictive and fun -- and really, isn't that what TV should be? Don't believe us? Here are eight reasons why it's time to get off a get off your TV high horse and, uh, dive in.
1. The judging: Let's get this out of the way: Splash makes absolutely no sense. But that's why it's so great. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the judging. This is a world where Kendra Wilkinson is scored higher than Brandi Chastain simply because she overcame her fear of heights. And this is where Katherine Webb was saved over Keshia Knight Pulliam because, in the words of judge and 2012 Olympic gold medalist David Boudia: "Katherine ... your dive was not all that great. But it's absolutely about the journey." Don't cry "foul" on him and fellow judge, three-time Olympian Steve Foley, so fast. Their approach is actually genius. Splash subverts all your expectations of a "proper" judge with a wink. Everyone knows that a competitive reality show is not solely about mastering a skill or "being the best," so why pretend like it is? For far too long have we seen reality show judges take everything too seriously. It's nice to see some who don't.
2. The production: Not since the Beijing Olympics have we seen choreographed sequences this insane -- and not of the "Holy sh--! How did they do that?" variety. Each episode opens with an over-the-top acrobatic Cirque du Soleil-esque pro diving number and each one is truly an event. Don't tell us you don't want to see people jump off a red-carpeted platform in ball gowns and suits to the flashes of pseudo paparazzi (read into that what you will), or watch a cadre of silver-suited men dive in succession before a red-suited one belly-flops from 33 feet up. (Symbolism! How Schindler's List of them!) Did we also mention the synchronized swimmers taking us in and out of commercial breaks? Why swimmers? Why the hell not?
3. Nostalgia: When was the last time you thought about Keshia Knight Pulliam or Drake Bell? Be honest. The answer's most likely a long, loooong time. But thanks to Splash, we get to catch up with our
favorite completely random stars from yesteryear. So what's Nicole Eggert up to lately? For most, the answer's simply diving on reality TV, but it's still fun to catch up with them nonetheless. Plus, who would have ever thought they'd see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doing a backflip into a pool? Not us. Especially when everyone knows, "diving is a small person's game."
4. Louie Anderson: Anderson was undoubtedly the underdog of the competition, a label that he reinforced when he couldn't even get out of the pool during his first training session (coach Greg Lougainis had to get in the pool and push him up while Bell and Ndamukong Suh pulled him by the arms). And though we couldn't help but laugh at his earlier struggles (and rewatch it many, many times), we found ourselves cheering when he got up to the board and then decided to jump from a higher one -- all for the troops! One highly praised (and highly scored) swan dive later, Louie Anderson went from cannon fodder to the most likable person on the show.
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5. The walkout songs: We thought nothing could be better than the San Francisco 49ers entering the Super Bowl field to "California Love," but we were wrong. Who needs Dr. Dre and Tupac or any mainstream, played-to-death hit when you can walk out to your own personalized jam? We highly suggest watching Splash with closed captioning because the lyrics are hilarious. Chastain's punk track? Brandi Chastain, do it again / She used to play soccer / Now she's hittin' the water. Abdul-Jabbar's sexy R&B duet? Skyhook (x2) / He's got the skyhook (x2) / He's undunkable / He's unbelievable. But nothing beats Pulliam's anthem.
Rudy's all grown up
Body's blowin' up
All I gotta do is show up
This place about to blow
This ain't The Cosby Show
Grammy-winning material right there.
6. Joey Lawrence's awkwardness: Oh, Joey Lawrence. What are we going to do with you? Mock you, that's what. But only out of Brotherly Love. That, and because you're so incredibly terrible at your job. Lawrence is not quite a trainwreck, but just like one, you just want to keep watching. In addition to an array of awful puns ("Ten celebrities will flip -- and maybe flop -- in a spectacular diving competition"), Lawrence truly proved his complete incompetence as a host when he interviewed Eggert before her first dive. In the worst pep talk ever, he reduced Eggert to tears after he forced her to watch her earlier fall in warm-ups -- while standing on the 16-foot platform. But fortunately, she had Lawrence on hand to restore her confidence. "It looks like your arms just, like, gave out," he stutters. (Note: The show is not live.) "Um, OK. Are you... are you all right? OK. So are you feeling -- after something like that happens... what's making you emotional?" Oh Joey, beloved symbol of our childhood, Ryan Seacrest, you are not.
7. The GIFs: From Wilkinson trying to booty pop underwater to Eggert's accident, Splash might be challenging Happy Endings for the most GIF-able show out there. Need proof? Check out the evidence below:
GIFs via The Big Lead, Adam Riff, ABC and Grantland.
8. Joey Lawrence's hair: "Whoa!" will be your reaction when you see whatever it is that is going on on Lawrence's head. The luscious wavy tresses are sadly no more. The guy is balding. But instead of owning it and going for a chrome dome, he's opted for some hair plug/dye job/transplant/spray-on/Chia Pet situation. It's truly the most inexplicable, fascinating and head-scratching (no pun intended) thing on TV right now. Once you get a look at it, you'll have one thought and one thought only: Can someone push him into the pool so we can see what happens to it?
Splashairs Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.