As opposed to the quiz-based formatting Jeopardy! favors, a growing number of game shows rely more on physical abilities and spatial awareness than trivia knowledge. At this trend's apex are obstacle course shows such as Wipeout that recall the glory days of classic Nickelodeon game shows such as Double Dare and Legends of the Hidden Temple. The genre can now welcome Netflix's new show Floor Is Lava, which is the perfect binge-watch for '80s and '90s kids in need of Nickelodeon-esque fun.
At its core, Floor Is Lava features teams of three friends and/or family members competing to make it across the super-busy stages in the fastest time, with as few teammates as possible falling into the watery "lava" below. Now let's talk about why Floor Is Lava is almost required viewing for anyone who grew up marveling at the big and elaborate set designs for Finders Keepers, Guts and other Nickelodeon game shows.
Floor Is Lava Is Simple In Concept, Difficult In Execution
Like the living-room game that the Netflix series is based on, Floor Is Lava looks like a relatively simple game to conquer, in that it's basically teams of three crossing rooms by climbing over furniture. However, the show utilizes five different room set-ups – from a kitchen to a bedroom to an outer space-themed room – that are anything but easy-breezy to make it through. For one, teams are racing against the clock, putting lots of pressure on everyone's decision-making skills. And yes, the stage's difficulty is reflected by how long the teams take, so wasting time is detrimental to all involved.
As well, each stage features roughly 80,000 gallons of water-lava splashing around as the contestants make their way through. So while everything might look dry from the outset, the majority of surfaces in each room get soaked as time goes by, making everything extremely slippery and hard to hold onto. That said, it IS quite easy to live vicariously through the contestants while offering up armchair-quarterback advice about what they should be doing, which hearkens back to yelling at Double Dare families for not seeing the obstacle course's orange flags that were right there in front of their faces.
The Floor Is Lava Stages Are So Awesome
Floor Is Lava's wide-open courses are more reminiscent of Guts' Aggro Crag than Legends of The Hidden Temple's final stage, but their designs do incorporate more thoughtful puzzle elements that are similar to the Temple Run and other Nickelodeon game show concepts. For instance, some stages have nondescript ropes that give contestants advantages when they're pulled (assuming they're even noticed in the first place), and some have wall decorations that can be used as mini-bridges.
In some ways, Floor Is Lava is as close as TV game shows get to point-and-click "escape the room" video games that influenced the spread of real-world escape rooms. Granted, it doesn't actually feature anyone playing video games like Nick Arcade did, but the Netflix series is a definite evolution over Nick Arcade's final stage, the Video Zone, in which contestants were digitally (and awkwardly) super-imposed over video game graphics. It would be a good time to bring up the show Fun House, but that wasn't on Nickelodeon, so we'll move on.
Floor Is Lava Uses Teamwork In Unique Ways
The majority of game shows geared towards adults feature singled-off contestants competing against one another, instead of relying on team-based challenges that kid-friendly shows often opt for. Floor Is Lava, however, is very team-friendly, and many situations on the show nearly require contestants to get timely assists from partners. In this case, it's perhaps most akin to a Nickelodeon show like Wild & Crazy Kids (or What Would You Do?, to a certain extent), where challenges highlight team members' specific strengths or talents, as opposed to just putting everyone through the randomness of digging through the fake snot in Double Dare's giant schnoz.
In that way, no two teams will tackle the obstacles in Floor Is Lava's rooms in the exact same way. Puzzle-minded contestants will likely have better strategies for how to get from Point A to Point B, and might be quicker to figure out the room's secrets. Taller team members with long legs can cross larger gaps between surfaces quicker more readily than others. Contestants who enjoy wall- and rock-climbing activities will have an easier time of scaling everything in the room. Those with a pristine sense of balance have a better shot at not falling at key moments. And so on. Everyone has a role to play, even if no one does it perfectly, just like in real life.
All ten episodes of Floor Is Lava Season 1 are currently available to stream on Netflix right now, so be sure to do some long stretches and binge it soon! While waiting to hear if Season 2 will happen on the streaming giant, head to our Summer 2020 TV premiere schedule and our 2020 Netflix rundown to see what other big shows are on the way.