Show You Need to Be Watching: 'Splash'
Before we start, I should make something very clear: Splash is not a good TV show. It will never win an Emmy, barring some kind of post-apocalyptic Mad Max takeover of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Its current IMDb rating is hovering at 2.3 stars out of 10, and rightly so. You don't want to watch it. But you need to.
I expected to lead a happy, Splash-free life until my boyfriend roped me into watching an episode with him. Love means making sacrifices -- and I also realized that I'd be reciprocally entitled to all the My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding I want -- so I gave in.
... and, to my dismay, really enjoyed myself. I mean, take a look at this promo:
That's the premise: 10 (sort-of) celebrities learn to perform dives from regulation-height platforms, with the lowest-scoring competitor to be eliminated each week. Regrettably, unlike the eponymous 1984 Tom Hanks movie, Splash features zero mermaids. But it's kind of great.
Four-time gold medalist Greg Louganis serves as coach and mentor for the cast -- which, as of the season premiere, included the likes of NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former Girl Next Door Kendra Wilkinson and comedian Louie Anderson. Splash is co-hosted by Joey Lawrence, who looks like his DNA got crossed with Ryan Seacrest's in a freak teleportation accident at some point in the early 2000's.
Splash is like a post-modern Esther Williams nightmare, full of bedazzled bikinis, melodramatic musical flourishes and divers ripping off their pants -- Gob Bluth-style -- to reveal Speedos underneath. It's an ill-conceived, campy spectacle, and I defy you to look away.
One of my favorite things about the show is the ample opportunity it provides for non-sexual gawking at the human form, in all its shapes and sizes. When Kareem (at 7'2") and Louie (a rotund 5'7") dive side-by-side, it's downright surreal. In terms of more conventional beauty, it's difficult to believe that Katharine Webb was not created in a laboratory. You will find yourself creeped out to realize that Drake Bell might have had those abs since his time on Nickelodeon.
It's also serviceable methadone for the recovering Summer Olympics junkie. As tacky as its trappings may be, Splash is still centered around an incredible athletic feat. Diving is not, as Toy Story once said of flying, "falling with style" -- the sport requires intense body control, focus and bravery. It is directly against human nature to jump face-first into anything, especially when breaking your neck is a real and plausible consequence. (And now for the best diving fact you will learn all day: the event first appeared at the Olympics games under the title "fancy diving.")
Splash airs on ABC at 8 on Tuesdays, and you definitely should be watching it. There's room for a little junk food in a balanced TV diet.