ABC's 'Splash': The Latest Bad Idea in Reality TV

Believe it or not, the diving competition starring semi-famous people isn't the worst unscripted series to make it to air in recent years!

Fans of train-wreck reality television, it's time to buckle your seat belts. ABC's Splash (premiering Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET) is your next opportunity to watch TV through your fingers as minor celebs risk humiliation for money (and maybe a bit more fame). 

Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis serves as the head coach in this celebrity diving competition, with 12 semi-famous personalities -- ranging from reality star Kendra Wilkinson and former Baywatch babe Nicole Eggert, to NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and NFL player Ndamukong Suh.

Heavyset comedian Louie Anderson is one competitor getting lots of early attention, ostensibly since his girth ought to inspire the largest "splash." He also told ABC News that he's "not that good of a swimmer" and has "a fear of heights." An overweight, fearful guy on a high dive? Perfect. This ought to be way better than that other celebrity diving show that's everyone's forgotten already. Too bad they didn't have a fat guy.

Maybe we should have expected this from the network that brought us Are You Hot? a decade ago. (A judging panel selected the contestant with the sexiest body. With a laser pointer.) But let's not pick on ABC, because lots of networks have taken bad reality ideas all the way to the air. Here are four relatively recent ones: 

Stars Earn Stripes (NBC, second season currently not scheduled)
Eight celebrities are challenged with a series of fake military missions. NPR reporter Linda Holmes told listeners that the "offensive concept should not distract you from the fact that it's stultifyingly boring as television and badly designed as a reality-competition show." Watch this snippet and decide for yourself. 

Immortalized (AMC, Thursdays, 11 p.m. ET)
Anyone up for a televised taxidermy contest? Anyone? Click here to see stuffed squirrels unveiled to dramatic music, and you can't help but wonder how this bad idea made it to your TV screen. "Taxidermy would have made a great subject of a documentary special," wrote Allison Keene in The Hollywood Reporter. "But as a competition show? It's as lively as the animals displayed."  

The Job (CBS, canceled) 
Why was this show yanked after only two episodes? Maybe because of scenes like this one, where an eager college graduate is made to compete for a low-paying magazine job. "The really insufferable part is the format, which tries desperately to invest the awarding of an unspectacular job with drama and pathos," writes Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times. "Spending an hour of prime time trumpeting a job like editorial assistant as if it’s a career-crowning achievement somehow diminishes what’s happening in the real employment world."  

Bridalplasty (E!, canceled)
You can't write about bad ideas in reality TV without mentioning Bridalplasty, the competition show that pit brides against one an other as they competed for plastic surgery procedures and a dream wedding. "GROSS," wrote Entertainment Weekly's Annie Barrett, who felt physically ill after watching the first episode. "I honestly can’t believe I haven’t died yet. I’m gonna need a lot of non-plastic surgery by doctors without the word brow in their names to repair all of this internal damage!"

On second thought, maybe Splash! isn't so bad. Divers, take your mark!

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