Most little kids dream of being heroes. They want to be doctors, nurses, firefighters, policemen, good Samaritans, or anything else that makes the world a better place. Not me. I wanted to be a game show host. Screw ambulance drivers, soldiers, and teachers. Bob Barker was my hero. My grandmother and I watched ‘The Price is Right’ every morning. I saw the pure elation and euphoria only known to proud parents and more importantly, contestants winning brand new cars. Watching this emotional high was almost addicting. It was my five-year-old drug of choice, and I was hooked from the first moment. While every other prepubescent boy longed to be Jack McDowell, I set my sights higher. I focused on a world of ‘Plinko’, ‘Showcase Showdowns’, and mesmerizing, oversized wheels.

Over the next decade and a half, my game show devotion only grew. I branched out and began watching ‘Wheel of Fortune’, ‘Jeopardy’, ‘Let’s Make A Deal’, and countless others. Some I liked; some were watchable; and some were just downright bad. I soon realized all game shows fit into three categories: those that took legitimate skill, those that required a middle school intelligence level, and those that were absolute, dumb luck. Ironically, there are great programs that fit into each one of the subcategories. A little less ironically, there are also horrid, ill-advised messes that fit into each genre. Here’s a look at some of the absolute worst.

‘Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?’
Type: A Little Skill
If you live in America, chances are you’re probably caught up in the massive hysteria that surrounds this assault on intelligence. The basic premise involves an adult having to answer questions out of a fifth grade textbook. The illiterate and presumably sober contestant also receives periodic help from five elementary school students. Watching middle-aged buffoons struggle to answer questions like, “Which continent is also a country?” physically pains me. I’m pretty sure I got dysentery and a blood clot from one episode. What does it say about our culture that grown men and women can’t answer these queries? It is painful and pathetic. How is this supposed to be entertaining? It’s like the Hindenburg in a mass produced game show format.

‘Deal Or No Deal’
Type: Dumb Luck If I wanted to watch an idiot blindly guess and get rewarded, I would go outside and stare at the homeless guy trying to figure out which dumpster has food in it.

‘Legends Of The Hidden Temple’
Type: Skill
If you remember ‘Legends Of The Hidden Temple’, chances are you were born in the 1980’s. The show ran from 1993-1995, and it pitted teams of two against one another. Each duo would have to answer questions from almost laughably foolish fairy tales in an attempt to earn ‘pendants of life.’ The future Mensa members could also score points by winning poorly planned physical challenges that usually involved clutching onto flimsy ropes in a desperate attempt to snare ‘Montezuma’s wounded pride’ before they fell. Winners would get another ‘pendant of life’; losers would get at least one artificial limb. Whichever team acquired the most ‘P.O.L’s’ would then get to enter the ‘hidden temple.’ One at a time, the kids would traipse through rooms like ‘the shrine of the silver monkey’ avoiding temple guards who would steal the ‘pendants of life.’ Add to all of that, host Kirk Fogg’s creepy pedophile vibe and you have the recipe for a legendary waste of a half hour.

‘Card Sharks’
Type: A Little Skill
Ok. I have no problem with the general idea of ‘Card Sharks’. In fact, I think it’s pretty interesting, but the contestants are easily the most brain dead pack of hooligans I have ever encountered. The object of the show is to guess whether the next card will be higher or lower. This seems basic enough; however, odds are completely lost on these schmucks. For example if the card is a jack, you’ll probably hear things like this: “You know what Bob, I’m going higher!” Higher? Are you serious? There’s twelve cards higher and thirty six lower. “But I got a good feeling about this one, Bob!” Really? You want to bet on the Cubs too or maybe France?

‘Street Smarts’
Type: No Skill
Here’s a great idea for a show: let’s find three eighth grade dropouts and find out which one doesn’t know that New Mexico is a state. It’s a lot like middle school; find someone weaker than you and laugh at them; however, the sheer hypocrisy is exposed when you realize most of the contestants don’t know the answers either. It’s like an alcoholic laughing at someone else drunk. At first you giggle with them a little bit, and then the sad reality comes crashing down.

There’s countless other terrible game shows, but hey, there’s only so much time in the day to review them. Thankfully, not everything is all bad though. Here’s my list of the ten best of all time:

    1. ‘Jeopardy!’
    2. ‘Supermarket Sweep’
    3. ‘The Price Is Right’
    4. ‘Family Feud’
    5. ‘Wheel Of Fortune’
    6. ‘The Newlywed Game’
    7. ‘Press Your Luck’
    8. ‘Win Ben Stein’s Money’
    9. ‘The Gong Show’
    10. ‘Shop Til You Drop’


A few years ago, I was on a Hollywood tour bus where they take you around to see the stars’ houses. We came around a sharp corner and the guide said, “If you look on your left, you will see Bob Barker’s house.” As we got closer, I saw a brand new Hummer fly out of the driveway and almost hit our bus. It was Bob Barker with a shit-eating grin on his face. He’s still my hero.

Post a response if you wish to harass me, defend one of these garbage shows, or tell me your best and worst.

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