Just How Phony Is Splash?

Before I get into calling bullshit on Splash, let me stipulate for the record that I am not an expert on diving and I don't want to represent myself as though I were. Not only am I not a diving expert: prior to the advent of this supremely stupid show, I have never watched or cared about diving -- no, not even during the Olympics, because I don't care about the Olympics. And yet, even given all of these caveats, Splash has engendered suspicions. Let's run it down.

  • When most seasons of Survivor -- one of the most physical reality competitions on TV -- get from premiere to finale without any contestants' having to leave due to serious injury, it seems weird that Splash has already had to release not one but two of its "stars" (Chuy Bravo, excused before he'd had even one dive in the competition, and now Katherine Webb) because they'd hurt themselves so badly. Maybe this is because celebrities, even the H-level ones ABC has rounded up for this show, are bigger quitters than Survivor contestants, and more inclined to punk out when there is apparently nothing at stake -- no talk of a cash prize for themselves, nor any suggestion that the stars are doing this for charity. Or maybe this is producer manipulation to amp up drama with "shocking" cast reshufflings. (See also: Kendra Wilkinson getting cast despite her severe fear of heights. I mean, that has to have been done just to make sure she'd freak out and quit, right?)
  • I...don't think I understand what rationale the judges are using to evaluate the dives. Do you? Shut up, no you don't. Because when Louie Anderson made his triumphant return to the game last night, stepped off the 10m platform, and basically fell straight down into the water without attempting any kind of move, he got a higher score than actual athlete Brandi Chastain. Near as I can gather from the judges' comments, Anderson's high score is due to Anderson's courage, the fact that it may be a record (to wit, highest dive by a 400-lb. person), and "heart," or something? Hence his three-point advantage over Chastain, who successfully executed a somersault and just biffed her entry into the water? I guess? I know that all judged sports are subjective, but Jesus.
  • Why am I so exercised about the judging integrity of a reality show about celebrities learning how to dive? I don't know, and I'm mad that I am.
  • Was there really ever any possibility that Anderson, having returned to the game due to Webb's injury, would somehow survive another elimination? As I've already said, his "dive" evinced no skill of any kind, and if the competition has permanently moved to the highest platform, his chances of mastering any advanced techniques would have probably been slim. So for him to return to the show only to bow out before having to beat Chastain in a head-to-head dive-off felt like both a foregone conclusion and a waste of my time.
  • Why am I acting like this waste of my time is a bigger waste of my time than the show itself is by default? I DON'T KNOW. SAVE ME FROM MYSELF.

Extreme skier Rory Bushfield having come to the competition not only with years of experience combining jumping and flipping around and with a sad personal story (his wife, also an extreme skier, died last year after injuring herself skiing), it seems obvious that he will win -- much as Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey had just a slight advantage over her fellow competitors when she appeared on Dancing With The Stars a few years back. So, given that the judges are going to have to continue coming up with pretexts to inflate scores based on "heart" or whatever the fuck so that Bushfield doesn't totally run away with it, in order for the show not to seem too obviously fixed, the fix is only going to seem more obvious as the weeks go by. And if Nicole Eggert weirdly hurts her knee this week and Anderson comes back yet again, I will be petitioning my Congresswoman to convene another quiz show hearing.

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