After watching a mere 38 seconds of Ryan Lochte's E! reality show, "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" it was clear the journey ahead would be a bumpy ride into the inane depths of a universe that is not our own. The show's opening of Lochte stumbling over his lines made it clear everyone involved was in on the joke – a reality show centered on an Olympic athlete who doubles as an Olympic meathead. After a few more minutes of watching the show, the "highlights" already included Lochte not being able to explain his catchphrase "Jeah", saying he lived by the classic philosophical mantra "Go big or go home", and even asking "What is a douchebag?"
We also met his "Lochterage", a massive group of partying hangers on and his younger brother, who played flag football in a real honest to goodness tuxedo t-shirt. The swan dive into Ryan Lochte's world was like watching a bad episode of Jersey Shore, except Gym, Tanning, and Laundry were replaced by Swimming, Bowling, and Shoes. The sad part is that behind the "Jeahs" and obvious moments of intentional intellectual schadenfreude was a lovable big kid who seemed like he really wanted to settle down, but was caught in the internal struggle of being Ryan Lochte.
America, shockingly, did not respond in droves. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lochte's debut drew a paltry 807,000 viewers Sunday night, losing almost half of the audience of its lead-in – an E! news special starring Ryan Seacrest and the Kardashians. Twice as many people also watched a rerun of Bravo's Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Given the amount of promotion for Lochte's show and the push E! made towards turning Lochte into the next reality TV star, What Would Ryan Lochte Do may be dead on arrival. Unless the show has a huge comeback in the ratings and people start telling their friends about what terrific, compelling television this is, it looks like WWRLD is on its way to the graveyard of other athlete reality shows like the T.O. Show and Pete Rose: Hits and Mrs.
Perhaps this is a positive sign. Perhaps America is growing tired of trainwreck reality shows whose central hook to draw you in is laughing at instead of with their stars. Or it just means Lochte's show missed the mark on its intended entertaining awful niche and crossed over into just awful awful.