A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Superficial but informative details about the history and evolution of TV game shows in the United States.
Positive Role Models
Showcases some inventiveness among TV show creators. Though some producers, etc. were corrupt, sexist, and bigoted, others were more ethical and open-minded.
Featured game show creators are primarily White and male, but archive footage and interviews also feature former contestants and hosts who identify as male, female, transgender, Jewish, Black, Asian, and Puerto Rican. Brief conversations about bigotry, sexism, and being visibly LGBTQ+ are had, as are discussions about events that challenged these norms.
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Violence & Scariness
Archive footage features contemporary contests where contestants have to fight as ninja warriors or compete in physical challenges to win prizes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of sexual innuendo, ranging from game show and unscripted reality competition footage featuring flirtatious behaviors (including kissing and hugging), references to being naked and suggestive comments about having sex. Interviews also reference romances and sexual situations. Some of this will go over kids' heads. Video clips of Los Angeles in the 1980s feature women in skimpy bikinis.
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Occasional words like "hell," "damn," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Sponsors are discussed. Logos for Revlon, Stampedes, Geritol, and many others are visible in early footage and referenced in more contemporary clips. Some episodes talk about sponsored prizes like new cars. This is offered in a historical context.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Winston cigarettes are prominently shown in archive footage. Drinking and drunken behavior is occasionally shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the The Game Show Show is a fun and informative series about the history of the genre. There's lots of sexual innuendo (some of which will go over kids' heads), some occasional strong language, and lots of sponsor brands are visible or alluded to, especially in archive footage. Issues pertaining to sexism and bigotry are also briefly discussed.
Is It Any Good?
The series offers an entertaining review of U.S. television game shows and what has made them so appealing to TV viewers for nearly a century. From classics like The $64,000 Question (1955-58) and The Newlywed Game (1966-1974) to revivals of early quiz shows that remain extremely popular today (we're looking at you, Jeopardy!), it reveals some of the reasons why so many have been produced over the years, and the strategies used to attract viewers. Controversies like the 1950s quiz show scandals and the quiet attempts of producers to manipulate contestants to appease studios and sponsors, often for bigoted and sexist reasons, are addressed. Some of the moments that challenge stereotypes are also highlighted.
Perhaps the most interesting part of The Game Show Show is what it reveals about the types of celebrity the genre has created over the years, ranging from beloved hosts like Alex Trebek and Bob Barker, to memorable contestants like Survivor winner Richard Hatch, and the impact this has had on the entertainment industry. It's humorous and informative, but the non-linear narratives that use quick sound bites and images keep it lighthearted and superficial.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.