As I was watching “Wipeout” this evening with my roommate, it struck me just how weird game show contestants are. Why are there no normal contestants on these shows? Is it because no ordinary person would ever sign up to run a foam-covered obstacle course? Or perhaps produce know that a group of average, everyday folks doesn’t make for good TV? If that’s the case, it seems that there are three types of people who do make good TV, because nearly every game show contestant of all time falls under these categories:
1. Smart. Ken Jennings, anyone? More intellectual game shows like Jeopardy! or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? have a few things in common. The first is that they end with punctuation marks. The second is that their draw comes from the intelligence of the contestants – we want to know if they’re smart enough to win it big. That, and we feel smart when we get the questions right. “I knew it before he did! I should get a PhD…”
2. Tragic. These type of contestants show up a lot on shows with high stakes. “What would you do if you won the five billion dollar prize, Shirley?” “Well, all three of my children are afflicted with the rarest and most incurable disease on the planet, our house just burned down, and I lost my job, so I would use the money to buy a new house, feed my kids, and research a cure for Severe Craniatus Insanicus.” The really sad part is, they usually wind up with five hundred bucks, and then everybody feels awkward. Still, people with a sad story always have a fall-back: “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”.
3. Hyper. “Wipeout” is like the world headquarters for Spazz and Scream International. There’s no way they’re casting you unless you can juggle, dance, dress up in a weird costume, or have a cheesy catchphrase that you scream incessantly. These people are loud, these people are quirky, and most of these people spend all day climbing in and out of freezing water and getting smacked in the face by high density foam with no payoff. Perhaps crazy would be a more accurate title than hyper. Still, if you can put on a show – and don’t mind the hosts making fun of you while your friends and family watch, you might get your shot at the big grand prize. So what are you waiting for? Put on that cape, whip out that unicycle, and get yourself on a game show.
These are the three categories that I noticed, but I want to know: have you spotted any more? What’s your favorite game show? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll see you tomorrow with a post about adventure.