TV — The Ryan Lochte Disaster

The Olympic swimmer embraces life as a "reality" star

Ryan Lochte: Olympic-caliber dumbass.
Ryan Lochte: Olympic-caliber dumbass.

The celeb world these days is a messy place of over-communication. Social channels connect the noteworthy with their audiences like never before, and for every attention-shirking artist, there are multitudes of spotlight-hungry lesser-thans embracing each ounce of its exorbitant glow. The resulting treasures? Amanda Bynes’ Twitter feed, Zach Braff’s Kickstarter campaign and E!’s latest offering, What Would Ryan Lochte Do?

WWRLD offers its audience an unasked-for invitation into the life of the chiseled-ab, winking prize hog of the 2012 Olympics. Since we last saw Ryan in an actual swimming pool, we’ve heard about him via the tabloids — his desire for companionship, bro-ship with mama, fashion world aspirations. Naturally, somebody found a three-dimensional view of these offerings necessary.

On one hand, WWRLD feels like never-ending, gratuitous self-congratulation (dude, please stop taking your shirt off!); on the other, as part of a world that prides itself on status updates and tweets, it more-than-kinda fits right in. Lochte is no genius, as evidenced by his self-described “blank moments.” Misplaced words and befuddled stares abound, but sadly we can do worse. (Lookin’ at you, Kardashians and Snookis.) When Lochte accepts an award on behalf of his work to combat muscular dystrophy in the show’s second episode, his star-athlete face goes on and he gives a heartfelt speech, even if two minutes earlier he was trying, cringe-inducingly, to figure out his tie.

The bigger trouble here is that Lochte’s play for the camera feels forced and Jeremy Renner-on-SNL awkward. Is he really picking up faceless females at bars, or does the show ask him to? Do his sisters really want to give him lady advice instead of watching What Women Want (his favorite movie), or is it being force-fed? Nobody here is “talented” (cough) enough at the art of Kardashian fake-out “reality” to really sell it, resulting in something mostly unwatchable. And that leaves the question of “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” suspensefully unanswered. Dun dun dunnn!


Jan. 27-March 5
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