In Defense of Game Shows


See that giant, multicolor money wheel up there? That’s the least tacky picture this week. Yeah.

Fair warning, this entry has lots of frightening clip art, bright colors, rubber balls, computerized bobbleheads, kitty cats, fast food solutions and diaper-clad adults screaming in Japanese. I accept that my words hold little value this week. For no matter how much humor I attempt, I could never overcome this:

For some reason, brought to you by Rice-A-Roni.

For some reason, brought to you by Rice-A-Roni.

Game shows and gaudiness just go together like crazy people and high-pitched screaming. And yet, people still love to rag on game shows. Granted, not in the “all of it’s MINDLESS AND TERRIBLE” way (a la reality television), but in the possibly worse “I have no reason to take it seriously” way.

That is, unless you’re crazily furious about game shows, like Blogger John.

In his blog titled “Things I Hate/Dig/Don’t Get” (fabulous titling), he writes, “The only redeeming quality about game shows on TV is that they make me feel superior to the dolts who are actually on the show. Sure, I might not be able to actually come up with the capital of Nevada (Carson City) while on the hastily-assembled stage but I can spit it out at home faster than you can say ‘James Rockford, come on down.'”

Ooh, someone lost on the first question of Millionaire, eh?

But back to the relatively non-crazy populace. If game shows and reality television are so similar, why do we dismiss one and hate the other with scary intensity? What is it about game shows that puts them into cultural limbo, never to be discussed or taken seriously

Logically, shouldn’t we hate game shows and reality shows with equivalent fervor?

Ah, but logic has no place here.

Ah, but logic has no place here.

 I guess I’m just confused. As a defender (and secret lover) of all things tacky and stupid, game shows are right up my alley. Sadly, not everyone shares my high-class sensibilities. Alas. But are there valid reasons why people would actively dislike game shows?

Blogger Jeff (what happened to last names?) illuminates some valid answers on his blog,

In an entry titled “Why I Hate Game Shows,” he oddly begins his post, “I don’t HATE game shows. But there are aspects to game shows that I dislike. I love game shows like Jeopardy, and other trivia games. Why? Because it takes a bit of skill, and a little bit of luck. So without further ado. Why I hate game shows!”

"I'm gonna guess... THE COLOR PALETTES!" "WOOO, good answer, good answer!"

“I’m gonna guess… THE COLOR PALETTES!”
“WOOO, good answer, good answer!”

Jeff seperates his argument into 3 categories. Firstly, he claims that too many contestants are exuberantly stupid to the point of annoyance. He wants people who at least appear to be normal, rather than sugar-filled 7-year-olds in adult bodies. Okay, granted. He also doesn’t like “The Grand Prizes,” where people think they’re getting a million dollars and that amount quickly shrinks due to taxes. Um… okay, an oddly specific thing to hate, but I’ll accept it.



The final point is titled, “The Level of Skill,” in which Jeff accepts Jeopardy and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire as valid shows, while decrying the ones that, “require people with the I.Q. of a walnut to compete.” I assume he means stuff like Wipeout,Fear Factor or Wheel of Fortune. Hey oh, take that grandparents!

Technically, two of those reasons are people being stupid. And that happens in life. Like, a lot, actually. The other reason involves taxes or something, so I’m going to ignore it for the sake of entertainment. You’re welcome.

So I must ask: What’s wrong with people being stupid? Or more precisely, what’s wrong with joining the stupidity for half an hour?

There's plenty to go around!

There’s plenty to go around!

I fear that John and Jeff (love my sources, by the way) approach the same problem from different angles. Both consider themselves cultured and intelligent, and fear the stupidest game shows destroy this by association. And yes, some of these shows are awful and tacky and dreadfully stupid. No doubt.

But is that really an issue?

Game shows should never be taken seriously. They’re just bright, stupid fun. Unlike reality television, game shows don’t speak to some level of judgmental voyeurism. You can approach them that way, but you’ll only come off as crazily furious.

Sure, game shows may be largely worthless or forgettable, but enjoyment can come from anywhere. We don’t have to be afraid to approach things we find stupid, because there’s some enjoyment in everything. And few things are as fun as flipping on the Game Show Network and screaming along with the computerized crowd. “WHEEL… OF… FORTUNE!” “THIS… IS… JEOPARDY!”

Umm... sure. That works too, I suppose.

Umm… sure. That works too, I suppose.

After all, there’s nothing wrong with some occasional, crazy high-pitched screaming. Occasional tackiness won’t kill you.


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