E! Television knows its role. Originally an entertainment news channel, the network has mutated into its current incarnation thanks to the insidious career maneuvering of one Kimberly Noel and the rest of the Kardashian horde. And though the Kardashian empire was built from the foundation of a ‘leaked' porno, programming such as Married to Jonas and Ice Loves Coco lets the public peek into the lives of actual, talented artists.
Even so, the viewer is all too aware that the plots of E! shows are meticulously constructed and produced. So E!’s latest offering promises the spontaneity and excitement of true reality television with a simple question: What Would Ryan Lochte Do?
Granted, a more accurate title would be Who Would Ryan Lochte Do? since the Olympian is known for his healthy array of one-night stands. Still: WWRLD? has the potential to become seminal television. It presents the American public, nay the world, with its first completely, totally, unequivocally oblivious celebrity.
As a real-life Derek Zoolander, the star of WWRLD? goes from American city to American city, raging with his bros and searching for true love on any given night. And by God, is it refreshing to watch. Lochte is a living, breathing tabula rasa, breast-stroking his way through a charmed existence, making cameos on 90210 and 30 Rock and ordering bottle service at LA’s and NYC’s hottest spots.
Ryan Lochte is the celeb-athlete this nation needs. We nag our athletes for being too detached from their fans. Not Ryan. Ryan will buy you a shot if you see him out. And Ryan has no shame. Like Derek Jeter, only less intelligent, Ryan makes no secret of the fact that he enjoys the company of a diverse tapestry of women. It's only when the subject turns to winning Olympic gold that Lochte’s bro-tesque veneer dissolves into tender sobbing.
There are rumors Lochte was passed over for ABC’s The Bachelor because he couldn’t guarantee the season would end with a marriage proposal. Respect.
This week, fellow E! Personality Kendra Wilkinson, during ABC’s celebrity diving competition Splash, muttered the truest of truths about our obsession with reality television stars:
‘People ask why I'm famous and my answer is, I have no idea. I don't do anything.'
Maybe that's true for Kendra. But not for Ryan. Ryan Lochte is an Olympic champion. He's famous because he's a great swimmer. And his infantile honesty is the tonic to Kim Kardashian’s toxic reign over American pop culture.