Former Olympic skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir hit a rough patch of ice Thursday night in their debut as lead figure skating analysts for NBC at the Winter Olympics.
The judges of social media wanted them to stop talking — ironic, as they’re being paid to talk.
The former Olympic skaters made a huge splash with fans four years ago at the winter games in Sochi, Russia, with their knowledgeable commentary and flamboyant fashion away from the ice rink.
In Pyeongchang they succeed Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic as lead analysts for figure skating.
The Wall Street Journal gushed all over them as the young, charismatic pair headed to South Korea: “The most incisive, most engaging and maybe even the best sports broadcasters on television wear bedazzled headsets.”
Tara and Johnny — as they call themselves — made it clear that their analysis of skaters in Pyeongchang will be critical, blunt and honest. “For some reason, we just don’t care,” Lipinski told the Journal. “We tell it like it is.”
Added Weir: “It’s the era of reality TV. And we try to make the best reality TV show there is at the Olympics.”
Well, the reality for some fans on Thursday was they didn’t like what Tara and Johnny were bringing.
Fans especially took issue with the way they talked about star American skater Nathan Chen as the 18-year-old struggled in his first time on Olympic ice.
In the men’s short program for the team event, Chen fell on a jump and placed fourth overall.
Weir called it “a disaster.”
Throughout the broadcast, social media users complained about how the duo crossed that fine line between critical and catty.
The other major complaint? People wanted them to stop talking so much while the competitors skated. The diss even inspired a new drinking game.
Other fans, however, loved the “Tara and Johnny” show, and their clothes. Weir’s shiny jacket made some people think of “Hunger Games” host Caesar Flickerman.
But the complaints were so overwhelming that supporters rushed to their defense on Friday.
“Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski are really good analysts,” wrote Mack Rawden for CinemaBlend.
“If they keep improving, they could eventually be considered among the strongest niche sport commentators on television, and there are very valid reasons for why they were so aggressive last night: the skating was awful.”
It’s not the job of professional commentators to be nice, Rawden wrote.
“It’s also not their job to be mean. It’s their job to explain what’s happening and offer context to those of us watching at home. So, when everyone is performing better than expected, we should expect to hear lots of positive statements. When everyone is screwing up, we should hear lots of negative statements. Last night was (mostly) a bloodbath. As a viewer, I would prefer to hear the truth, not some nicey-nice, overly optimistic slant on the truth.”