The Disney-owned network has revived the game show format; but not every show is appropriate for kids.
Since the early days of electronic media, there have been game shows. Television game shows are descended from game shows on radio, many of which followed the same formats that are still present today.
The first game show broadcast on experimental television was Spelling Bee and aired in 1938. The first game show to air on commercially licensed television was a visual version of radio’s Truth or Consequences in 1941. In the following decade, game shows became a permanent fixture on American television. Game shows airing during the day, like The Price Is Right, have always been the avenue for lower-stake games, while game shows airing during prime time, like 500 Questions, are often played for higher stakes.
The popularity of game shows amongst viewers hasn’t always been consistent, but every few years certain game shows are able to capture the excitement and nostalgia that originally drew viewers to them in the first place. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which debuted in the U.S. in 1999, has been credited as one of the main contributors to the revival of television game shows. In 2006, Deal or No Deal became a popular series due to its high risk and higher reward factor.
In the summer of 2015, ABC brought the popular daytime game show Family Feud to prime time, and added celebrities into the mix. Celebrity Family Feud quickly became even more popular than its predecessor. This prompted ABC to renew it for a second season, as well as reviving two game shows that originally gained popularity in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The ABC network has now designated Sunday nights as “ABC’s Sunday Fun and Games,” which consists of Celebrity Family Feud, The $100,000 Pyramid, and Match Game. Each series features celebrities as panelists and/or contestants. These game shows can be a fun escape from the usual reality dating shows or procedural crime dramas that are typically found on broadcast network television. However, their heavy reliance on sexual themes, innuendo, and other adult humor may cause parents to think twice about letting their children watch the entire prime-time game show block every Sunday evening this summer.
ABC’s Sunday evening starts off at 8:00 p.m. (ET) with Celebrity Family Feud, hosted by comedian and daytime TV personality Steve Harvey. The program follows the same format as the non-celebrity version, yet the celebrity version feels more loose and off-the-cuff than the standard series. Each team is led by a celebrity, and their teammates are either their real-life family, or some variation of their friends and/or coworkers. Each team is playing for the chance to win a sizable donation to a charity of their choosing.
The most talked about moments of this series are also the most questionable moments for potential younger viewers. Each round begins with a question that has been asked in a survey to regular people prior to the show; but the categories are typically sexual in nature. Some examples are: “We asked 100 women to name something specific that only your man is allowed to do to your behind,” or “On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is sex in your life?” Of course, these questions incite awkward reactions, and can potentially reveal intimate details about the contestant’s personal lives. Celebrity Family Feud is rated TV-PG, but it contains some adult themes that warrant a TV-14 rating, to better prepare viewers for the show’s content.
Following the Feud at 9:00 p.m. (ET) is a revival of the Pyramid game show made popular in the 1970s, now titled,The $100,000 Pyramid. Hosted by former NFL player and morning show personality Michael Strahan, this updated version is much like the original series. Contestants are paired up with celebrities and tasked to give each other clues in order for the other person to guess a word or phrase. The show’s title refers to the triangular-shaped board that is used to present the final six words/phrases necessary to win the $100,000 prize. Michael Strahan is a very charming host, and the nature of the categories do not typically allude to sexual themes or innuendo. Though in the premiere episode, one of the secret words was “Viagra,” to which the contestant gave the clue: “I take this to have a hard penis.” This type of clue is not a common occurrence, but it did warrant a TV-14 rating. Other than this one moment, the episode was completely without foul language and sexual dialogue.
Rounding out the night is the revival of Match Game, hosted by actor Alec Baldwin. Nostalgia plays a big role in this series, with every detail of the set harking back to its 1970s heritage. Even the skinny microphone that Alec Baldwin uses is a throwback to the original series. The game pits two contestants against one another as they are given a “fill-in-the-blank” question and are tasked to match the answers given by a panel of celebrities. These questions are not inherently sexual; but given that the celebrities are attempting to be edgy, they often take the low road and make their answers more vulgar than necessary. However, the biggest offender of this show is often Alec Baldwin himself. Each commercial break is led into or finished with a sexual innuendo. In the series premiere, Baldwin made an anatomical reference when he says, “If you couldn’t tell by the length of my microphone, I’m both a grower and a shower.” Later in that same episode, Baldwin welcomes the audience back from a commercial break by saying, “Welcome back to Match Game, the show that was conceived in the ’70s just like Sutton Foster. Both in the back of a van.” Match Game is rated TV-14 and airs at the end of the evening, so younger viewers are less likely to encounter this series, but parents should be warned that this series, much like Celebrity Family Feud, is not intended for children.
So far this summer, ABC’s Sunday Fun and Games has exceeded the network’s expectations and has garnered a respectable number of viewers from week to week. The game show format is easy for casual viewers to watch without the necessity of watching a previous episode. In the end, it is fun for people to watch competitions of any kind; and with the addition of celebrities, ABC might have begun a new renaissance for the classic television genre. The only caveat is that the TV-PG rating for Celebrity Family Feud is inconsistent with the rest of the night’s ratings. Parents be warned: these shows are fun and entertaining, but they may contain content that isn’t appropriate for the whole family.