It was almost an hour into Discovery’s incredibly-hyped finale Sunday evening of their Shark Week program — in which legendary Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was meant to participate in a race against a great white shark — that viewers heard ecologist Tristan Gutteridge, one of the show’s scientists, say the following: “Clearly, we can’t put Michael in one lane and a white shark on the far lane. We’re gonna have to do a simulation.”
This shocking revelation annoyed the hell out of viewers. The marketing campaigns had all implied that Phelps was going to race a real shark. Obviously, nobody actually said, “Michael Phelps is going to race a real shark,” but they didn’t say the opposite either. And when someone says ‘shark,’ you think of a shark, not a CGI shark unless you’ve literally just finished watching “Finding Nemo” — or “Shark Tale,” if you prefer bad movies.
Sure, the program was called “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White,” but having human race a deadly predator on TV would have been ridiculous. Anyone with a shred of common sense should have been able to tell that Phelps would not be racing an actual shark.
Throughout the course of the show, viewers watched as Gutteridge and the other nerds collected data about sharks and how fast they swim — which wasn’t easy, because sharks don’t tend to swim straight lines.
So, Gutteridge said, instead of Phelps and a shark swimming side by side, the team would use the information that had gathered to design a computer-generated image of a racing shark. And Phelps would race that instead of a real shark.
And obviously, the internet was pissed. Really pissed.
Also, Phelps lost. Which annoyed the proud humans of the internet even more.
Clearly, there’s only one way for Discovery to rectify this whole fiasco: have Phelps race against an actual shark. In a normal pool. If Phelps gets eaten, he loses. If he gets to the other side off the pool, he can climb out and live out the rest of his days in his mansion made out of gold medals.
And if Phelps says no, just ask Ryan Lochte. He’ll definitely do it.