Ryan Lochte Is the Worst Part of ‘The Traitors’

There’s a handful of things and people in pop culture right now that are impossible for me to care about. Yet Hollywood and social media insist I should feel otherwise.

There’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the entire British Monarchy, this rather pathetic era of Brad Pitt, Balenciaga, Emily Ratajkowksi’s dating life, James Cameron, Candace Cameron Bure and, now, thanks to my new favorite reality show The Traitors, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte.

(Warning: Spoilers ahead.)

For the uninitiated, The Traitors is an addictive reality competition that has similar rules to the party game Mafia. The series originated in the Netherlands. And now, thanks to its success, there are Australian, British and American spinoffs.

The first season of the U.S. version is available to stream in full on Peacock. It features a mix of notable reality stars, such as Below Deck’s Kate Chastain, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Brandi Glanville, and Big Brother’s Cody Calafiore, and non-famous contestants. Lochte is there for some reason as well. And by the time we get to the end of his four-episode stint, after he’s “murdered” by the game’s “traitors,” you have no idea why.

That’s not really true. When NBC announced the cast about a month ago, I was equally as confused about Lochte’s presence amongst far more interesting and relevant people.

I, too, enjoyed watching his star turn at the 2012 Summer Olympics. I even turned my back on one of my hometown heroes, Michael Phelps, hoping he would win the gold instead. I found his embrace of the public’s perception of him as an innocent, smooth-brained jock endearing. I chuckled whenever he said “Jeah!” I even have vague memories of watching his one-season E! reality show What Would Ryan Lochte Do?

However, in 2023, this is not a man I find intriguing as a public figure. I’m not even remotely thinking about his existence.

Even during moments in his career where I should actively loathe him—most notably, when he falsely reported a crime during the 2016 Olympics or when he denounced political protests at sporting events or when he was hired by Dancing With The Stars in spite of all this—I don’t. You know why? Because he’s not that interesting. Or charming. Or hot. Yet, according to NBC, he’s deserving of a documentary about his rehabilitation post-Olympics scandal and a spot on one of the hottest reality shows at the moment.

Still from Episode 3 of The Traitors, “Murder The Wrote”, from left to right, Cody Calafiore, Rachel Reilly, Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick, Ryan Lochte, Kyle Cooke, Christian De La Torre.

Euan Cherry/Peacock

On The Traitors, the Olympian fades in the background almost immediately. In the first episode, the other players make reference to his assumed stupidity—although, no one seems starstruck by him in the least bit. Cut to Lochte wandering the halls of the Scottish castle where the competition takes place while silly music plays. In his confessional, he amps up his whole “himbo” schtick. Who knows whether he understands the rules of the game.

In the rest of the episodes leading up to his elimination, Lochte’s barely seen. We hardly see him contributing to any of the daily missions. And he’s rarely given any confessionals. Even the more laid-back players have equal opportunity with the more outgoing contestants to share their thoughts in a diary room. By episode three, I genuinely thought he had quit, and the producers were hoping we’d just forget about him.

Also, as my friend noted, doesn’t Lochte have way more money than all of the other competitors, even the more famous ones? Why should a DMV manager have to potentially split a quarter of a million dollars with someone who had sponsorships with Speedo and Ralph Lauren at one point?

Think of all Bravolebrities that could’ve been cast on The Traitors instead. Vicki Gunvulson, Jill Zarin, Peter from Vanderpump Rules! There’s no way Dorinda Medley would’ve turned this down. Do you know what I would give to see her put on her Culombo hat and interact with Alan Cumming?

All of this to say, I’m tired of NBC manufacturing demand for Ryan Lochte. It does not exist. He is a relic of 2012, like Taylor Lautner and Honey Boo Boo. We don’t care anymore! Leave us alone!

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