“What is a douchebag? I really don’t know what it means.”
If there’s a purpose to What Would Ryan Lochte Do?, I’m not sure that E! and the titular swimmer are painting it with the same set of fingers. The network’s newest reality series debuted last night, as the 11-time Olympic swimming medalist wants to give his fans and, more importantly, people like me, who believe that he is a human cartoon character, a glimpse into his daily life as the ultimate All-American boy. The only problem is that E! and the show’s producers do not share that desire.
Once I came to that realization in the show’s opening moments, when we see him shouting his trademark made-up word, “JEAH!” all over the place, my mind began to wander, ultimately making me ask myself this question: Is Ryan Lochte the greatest genius that this world has ever known?
The show is a scripted mess, as obvious as a punch to the face, but if that’s how Lochte has chosen to let us into his world, then it’s not the worst thing we’ve watched. After all, it may be for the better that someone is feeding him lines, because the greatest takeaway from the entire first episode is that Lochte doesn’t know his d*ck from a doorknob. He doesn’t know what a douchebag is. He doesn’t know how many medals he has won. He can barely put a sentence together without his face freezing like a bad iPad app, and he speaks almost entirely in catchphrases and bad bro clichés.
If he’s not shouting, “JEAH!” with his gang of friends – that, I sh*t you not, he calls the “Lochtourage” – he’s screaming, “Turn it up!” because that’s what is on his t-shirt. Lochte, who calls himself Reezy because of course he does, is a mid-90s frat movie come to life, from the red Solo cups that he and his friends are constantly drinking from to his wardrobe, which was purchased and assembled between Spencer’s Gift Stores and Daytona Beach gift shops. And if his shirt doesn’t have a stupid party anthem on it, it has his name. Probably so he doesn’t forget.
To his credit, Lochte’s goal with this show is to reveal and showcase his heart (but certainly not his humility). He included some of his family members in the show:
- His mother, Ileana, who is the emotional mom who cries at all of his races
- Kristin, the oldest sister, who doesn’t approve of his girlfriends
- Megan, the middle sister, who is “quirky” and that means she tries to tell jokes
- Devon, his younger brother and roommate, who wore a tuxedo shirt for most of the episode (It’s also worth noting that Devon’s fear is skinny jeans, and I assume that’s because the Lochte men only wear cargo shorts)
In a moment that was intended to be touching, I’m sure, Lochte actually cried while talking about his mom. Wait, sorry. Using “actually” means that it’s something that happened. It was more like the opening war scene from Tropic Thunder when Robert Downey Jr.’s character delivers the Oscar-winning crying attempt while Tugg Speedman just keeps looking at the director. Lochte was Speedman, obviously.
The point of this show from Lochte’s perspective seems to be showing the swimmer in a new light, as a family man and simple guy who just wants to find love. The emphasis is on simple, because he is aware of how stupid we think he is, and he’s okay with that. He doesn’t pretend to be a genius and his honesty about it actually gives the show a little shred of charm in an otherwise urinal cake of BRO-magnon douchebaggery that includes him telling a group of girls to take their shirts off in a shirts-skins flag football game. (Seriously, I guarantee this guy can quote 90% of Van Wilder from memory.)
As for the search for love, there was one moment that absolutely blew my mind and caused me to get up from my couch and walk in a circle while shaking my head. The only girl that Lochte’s family approves of lives in London. I forget her name right now, because I was too distracted by my brain’s 404 error. This show, in its debut episode, used flashback footage to show Lochte hugging a random, faceless girl. It was like that episode of 30 Rock when they were filming the first episode of Queen of Jordan, and since the director couldn’t get Tracy and Liz to make up, he just used a random white woman and Hannibal Buress to get the job done.
Beyond that, we watched Lochte spit game in several different situations and let’s just say he’s lucky he’s famous. Lochte is 28 and still lives the college life in Gainesville, where he takes his last call ladies to the same sushi restaurant for every date. But if he wasn’t Ryan Lochte, Olympic gold medalist and guy with his own TV show, he’d be Ryan Lochte, guy who can barely form a sentence and tries to pick up girls by (poorly) reciting pick-up lines that he memorized from Maxim.
I don’t normally care where another guy parks his hog, but Lochte is a good-looking, wealthy, successful athlete and he’s hanging out at bars, struggling to pick up drunk fives and sixes. It’s like if Hemingway had never written novels because he settled for a Tumblr account. Just watching this made me both wish that he had become the next Bachelor and thank God that he didn’t.
And then there’s Michael Phelps. I would have thought that the purpose of this show is for Lochte to separate himself from Phelps, whose own PR has also been handled like a toddler with a Shake Weight, but Lochte brings it on himself for no reason other than to remind us that he’s just the second turntable at Phelps’ Wet Republic party.
But then, that’s Lochte’s genius. Sure, the show’s producers edited pieces together to make him look like an ultimate douchebag buffoon, probably because he is. And sure, not one person on the show came across as believable, likable or even tolerable. Yet here I am, writing 1,000 words about it. Damn you, Lochte.
I’d love to say that the next episode won’t garner this much attention or thought, but the sneak preview showed us Lochte in Washington, DC talking to a group of girls who only talk about politics, as you can practically see the monkey drinking its own pee inside a bubble in his brain. Also, this GIF:
If Lochte ends up dating or sleeping with Carmen Electra, his unlocked BRO-chievement will reach EPIC status alongside Ashton Kutcher’s trucker hats and Derek Jeter’s first two fingers.