As a pop culture critic, believe me when I say reality TV is a tough market to crack. While Survivor and American Idol might seem like very different shows, the truth is they both have that same “it” factor: characters with captivating, yet horribly annoying personalities. The creative minds behind Fox’s new hit reality competition, Who’s the Best Baptizer?, must know this, as their show features people so unbearable you won’t believe they aren’t actors. The thing is, the transfixing stars of this show aren’t who you’d think.

The real stars of Who’s the Best Baptizer? aren’t the priests doing the baptisms, but the lifeguards.

I know Father Mike and his massive ego won’t like me saying this. The self-proclaimed “superstar” of the baptism world and WTBB’s chief judge certainly loves the spotlight. I seriously don’t think a more bigheaded person has come out of the Catholic Church since Jacques Marquette, that French-Canadian bastard whose name is plastered all over the Midwest.

Well sorry to hurt your feelings Mikey, but I speak the truth!

Father Mike prances and preens around the dais, prattling on about “holding techniques” and “infant silencing strategies” and how you can tell the size of a baby’s lungs by looking at its nostrils, like he’s fucking Hippocrates. All the while those red-and-yellow clad, orange-hued hunks are standing behind him, stoically silent. Frankly, it’s hotter than Hell.

Now don’t let their professionalism around the font fool you. Outside of work hours, this cadre of characters gets into some downright debauchery, and anyone who watches the show will tell you this is the best part. You mean Samantha kissed Nicholas even though last night we saw her go back to Lucas’ bed chambers? You mean Paul, who everyone calls “Pearly White Paul” because of his dazzling smile, actually wears dentures? You mean to tell me that Kayleigh is a Protestant? Their stately performance during work hours is like visiting the Statue of Liberty after NYU frat bros attempted to do body shots off of her at a sleazy club the night before. How can they stand so still while their gastrointestinal systems gurgle and churn?

Father Mike can’t possibly compete with the lifeguards. Sure, he’ll spit out a few solid one-liners when an immersed baby turns a bit too blue, or get off a solid eye roll when a nervous young priest fumbles over the Lord’s prayer while a screaming infant pisses all over him. But has he even seen Mark’s gym routine? Or Adam’s sexy nipple piercings? Or what Hazel can do with a cherry stem? He’s kidding himself if he thinks he can compete with any of that, no matter how ravishing he looks in a cassock.

The amateur baptizers themselves make for good entertainment at times. Occasionally one will lose the load (that’s baptism slang for “drop the baby”), while another might forget how to make the sign of the cross and start bawling uncontrollably. Some competitors might even be worth rooting for! But nothing they do at the font can hold a candle to a bunch of sweaty, scantily-clad 20-somethings engaging in high-energy, meaningless tomfoolery after spending a full workday making sure traumatized toddlers don’t drown in holy water.

Sorry Father Mike, but this will be the truth for as long as WTBB is on the air. And as for exactly how long that will be, I turn to what a furious Lucas shouted at Samantha and Nicholas after finding them making love in the confession booth: “You’ve passed the Rubicon, motherfuckers!!”


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