I couldn’t help it. I watched Celebrity Splash!.
The thing about bad television is that there’s usually a reason for it to exist in spite of its quality. Somewhere deep in its troubled soul is the squirming infancy of something great, but it’s incredibly rare that that greatness comes to the fore. I don’t know if that greatness could ever exist within Splash!. I mean, yes, they could have to dive off cliffs, or dive in drag, but such oddities would just feel forced given the show’s already silly conceit. The artifice would be too obvious. But when a show tries to convince us that there’s courage in jumping into a pool because some harried producers are paying them to, things get problematic.
Of course there are some campy elements to a show like this. The very fact that Larry Emdur is part of it makes that obvious enough, given that he preternaturally out-flames Greg Louganis’ hair within minutes. But as much as I hysterically guffaw at the idea of being graded on ‘courage’ (“You get a nine out of ten for arbitrary!!!”), I can’t help but feel my brain recede at the sight of an Olympic champion diver stooping to telling Tamsyn Lewis—she either fought with Jana Pittman or turned letters on Wheel of Fortune, but who can tell the difference these days?—that she was nine out of ten braveries for falling off a platform from a handstand after being paid to train with world-class coaches for six weeks . You’re a regular hero, TamLew. I’m sure there are no young, aspiring, competent athletes who would have been better afforded such an opportunity.
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But genuinely: what is the point? Why is this entertaining? What is the outcome? Does the winner get to keep the jar holding Emdur’s frontal lobe? Is it all a big conspiracy to make us believe Nick Bracks is as attractive as he so clearly thinks he is? Is it some kind of insidious plan to see if anyone can remember the name of BOTH of the Misses Universe Australia on a weekly basis? Hint: you won’t be able to.
Listen: entertainment is entertainment. You may enjoy this kind of thing. But even The Voice is less vapid than this. At least the contestants on The Voice are uniformly competent if you listen from the room farthest away from your television. But if you can read through this list of my reality show pitches and still find Celebrity Splash! entertaining despite its evident conceptual inferiority, then all the more power to you, I suppose.
Sleek, muscled, pansexual behemoths beat each other with padded sticks while ruthlessly having intercourse with each other.
A variety of Australia’s most well-loved celebrities (WHITES ONLY) take a six-week crash course in medicine and surgery, then perform in front of a live audience as Dr Cindy Pan and the Bondi Vet leer condescendingly from the judging panel. If you’ve ever wanted to see Patti Newton saw through a sternum and crack open a ribcage somewhere other than in your sexual fantasies, this is the show for you!
Reality competition series in which a group of brides-to-be compete in challenges to win plastic surgeries so they can be the “perfect” bride on their wedd—sorry? This already exists? Goddamnit, I thought I had something.
Go Back to Where You Came
Docu-series follows six teenage boys who just talk about where they ejaculated recently.
Kerri-Anne & Rhonda: Diva Queens
We follow the exploits of Australia’s favourite daytime divas as they randomly perform show tunes in public spaces. (I am 100% serious about this one!)
The Biggest Loser: Michelle’s Bridges
In an effort to help them achieve their goal weights, personal celebritrainer Michelle Bridges body-shames overweight Australians before cackling maniacally and pushing them off Australia’s most scenic bridges (“The weight’ll fall right off in hospital!” Bridges enthuses in promotional materials).
Alan Jones’s Gauntlet of Terror
A group of asylum seekers fight through a competition that is definitely not at all like The Hunger Games. The winner will receive a one-year visa and the enviable task of cleaning up Mr Jones’ personal waste. Features Popstars alumni as mentors competing in a parallel competition to win an extremely brief revival of their cultural relevance.
Networks: I await your calls.