‘What Would Ryan Lochte Do?’ Good question, but don’t ask him

I was going to review the new E! series “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” last night. But then I thought, well, what would Ryan Lochte do?

With that in mind, I decided to wait until right now. Ryan Lochte, after all, doesn’t have to show up to any party on time. Equipped with his own roving Lochterage (the members of whom, apparently, live in their own Lochtenation — I am not making this stuff up), it seems that the Olympic swimmer might show up fashionably late to everything except a swim meet. 

I will admit, there is still some part of me that can’t quite understand how Ryan Lochte managed to come out of the 2012 London Olympics with two gold medals, two silvers, one bronze and the title of the biggest honking douchebag around. The fact that the media celebrated his return to the spotlight by gleefully sharing that clip of two Fox news anchors laughing their asses off over how achingly dumb Lochte appears to be just adds to the general impression that, despite his good looks, despite his accomplishments, we all sorta, like, look down our noses at this big, hunky lummox. Oh, that is unless we’re a twentysomething female, in which case we want to sleep with him, then not care when he doesn’t call the next day.

Of course, “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” doesn’t do a lot to challenge that impression. Given the title, which probably has a lot of devout Christians either rolling their eyes or writing angry letters to E!, it’s pretty clear that Lochte thinks he isn’t the douchebag everyone says he is. Then again, I’m assuming he gets the reference.

The show begins by showing the Olympic swimmer not in the water doing what he does best, but prattling on about his custom-made Speedo sneakers, which might, if worn in sand, leave his name in the footprints. To be kind, he sounds like a dumb frat guy, one who’s just unlucky enough to have been given a sufficient amount of fame and notoriety with which to hang himself. 

Still, the show itself isn’t half bad, really. Ryan Lochte is an affable oaf, and most definitely pretty to look at. He is surrounded by family members who love him as well as hangers-on whom are thankfully kept at a distance by show producers (although when Lochte suggest the girls in his Lochterage take off their shirts to play skins in a touch football game, we see several reaching for their shirts before Lochte mercifully tells them he’s joking). 

He also comes equipped with a charming story arc which is only slightly more convincing than, say, “Peter Pan,” most politicians or the utterly unreal reality of the Kardashians. Lochte admits he doesn’t have to ask girls out (they come to him), but he admits he yearns for a relationship. I would be more inclined to believe he has gills or is secretly married to Michael Phelps, but I understand why we need this.

If we are to believe Ryan Lochte is just a douchebag screwing his way through the sororities of the University of Florida with no other goal than to fart during his workouts and get blotto drunk with his Lochterage, well, that wouldn’t be great TV, would it? The idea that someone as physically perfect as Ryan Lochte just can’t find the right girl? You can hear the swooning a mile away.

And so, the show takes us on a date with Lochte. He somehow manages to find Megan, who seems to be even dimmer and more naive than he is (she has never eaten sushi and doesn’t know what a wonton is, which her poor date can’t explain anyway). When she reveals she’s moving to Los Angeles in a few months, any future plans are crushed. But then, we don’t exactly see Lochte dropping Megan at home and giving her a chaste kiss, either, which makes me think the date may have ended exactly as he hoped. Jeah!

Oh, and about that “jeah.” When Lochte isn’t saying “jeah” (pronounced like Gia, which makes me think he’s always calling out for an 80s supermodel), he’s talking about his Lochterage or Lochtenation or dropping in meaningless aphorisms, like “If you’re a man at night, you’ve got to be a man in the morning” (as opposed to, I guess, a woman or a bumblebee. Given all the nonsense Lochte is spewing, it’s amazing we can understand him at all.

When Lochte hangs out with his two older sisters Kristin and Megan, mom Ileana and little brother (and roommate) Devon is when Lochte stops being a dumb jock and starts appearing to be almost human. Though Kristin and Megan both lobby for their brother to date the geographically undesirable Jaimee, they seem to think he’s almost, sort of, maybe ready for love. And Lochte gives the idea lip service as well. He’s 28, and his sisters are already married with kids! 

Somehow, though, I think Lochte isn’t one to take the long view. For at least a while he’s going to be catnip to the co-eds, and this show’s clearly scripted attempts to make him seem like a lovelorn Romeo looking for Ms. Right do the trick, so he may be able to work his way through many more semesters of one night stands. Does that make him a douchebag? No, but it doesn’t make for great TV, either. 

Did you see “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” Do you think he’s a douchebag?