The Ultimate Surfer, set to air Monday, August 23 2021 at the enviable 10pm time slot (ET/PT) is the high water mark of World Surf League CEO Erik “ELo” Logan’s tenure.
The Oklahoma native, who enjoys SUPping his home break Manhattan Beach and long walks to various FroYo parlors, came to surfing via the Oprah Winfrey Network and so a reality television program as his crowning achievement no surprise.
After the official announcement, there was much high-fiving and happy emojis passed back and forth between ELo and the contestants on Instagram.
Exclamation marks growing with each and every exchange.
World Surf League commissioner Jessi Miley-Cyrus even got in on the act even though she has been a fine champion for diversity and the cast is a fine shade of eggshell.
The thing about reality shows, though, is…. yikes.
I’ve been through it, or through it-adjacent. A one-time friend appeared in a design competition on a respected network back when the format still had some small energy.
We’d gather together with friends and friends of friends to watch, weekly.
At the time it was ok, her hustling around doing this and that, getting into petty arguments with the other contestants, looking too tired and too excited by turns.
She made it to the final three before losing in a less-than-dignified challenge.
Looking back on it all, I’d imagine she only feels shame. The producers call the shots, own the day, know what they are looking for and make it happen. Editors, with those producers looking over shoulder, carve and cut to achieve the narrative they want.
They drove her to look, and act, like someone else. Crying over ribbons etc.
The participants in The Ultimate Surfer will be met with the same ignominy. Network producers will create whatever they desire without one ounce of pushback from Santa Monica because Santa Monica has absolutely zero clue or leverage.
The farm, they say, has been sold.
Some, like ‘Stasia Ashley, won’t care. She already is reality television. Some, like Kai Barger, might.
There will be no winners, in any case, save us and Zeke Lau. (read hot scoop here!)
This pure, wonderful entertainment.