Americans love their game shows. It’s no secret that the dumber the show’s premise, the more viewers will be attracted to it — but just how stupid have these shows gotten over the years? We’ve come a long way from the simple radio-centric question and answer styling of old, and some modern shows are even full-body athletic games. Whichever type they happen to be, these 15 shows are some of the absolute worst TV game shows to grace the living room. The sad part is how many of us watched them all.
Family Double Dare
As you’ll see in the video — Family Double Dare, like its parent-format Double Dare, was basically a culmination of all things 80′s. It was the flagship for the then-fledgling Nickelodeon, and subsisted off of messy “physical challenges” interspersed with elementary-level trivia questions. The entire franchise had countless spin-offs over the years, but none were so warmly remembered as this heaping, neon-colored monstrosity of 1988.
The Singing Bee
The idea behind this show was lame enough without throwing talentless backup singers and an equally hapless Joey Fatone into the mix. The Singing Bee was doomed to failure the moment it was conceived, but that didn’t stop the network execs from pushing it out to the unwary masses for the short period of time it actually aired. Most people are happy to have forgotten about this experience, but we’re going to go ahead and remind you all of this wonderfully crappy nightmare of a game show.
The Moment of Truth
This disgusting, despicable display of moral outrage was single-handedly responsible for a frightening number of ruined relationships, broken hearts, destroyed reputations and shattered marriages. Contestants were made to submit to a polygraph examination before the show, in which they were asked questions ranging from the personal to the inane. It was, obviously, the personal questions that got aired in front of the millions of viewers. They nearly always led to revelations of adultery or equally shady behavior. Lives were ruined — but that’s good TV.
Deal or No Deal
Once upon a time, four years ago, a unholy alliance was formed between NBC and Howie Mandel. The tainted fruit of that union was Deal or No Deal, and we’ve all suffered the mind-numbing consequences ever since. Hopelessly transparent game-fixing covered by a pathetic attempt to woo viewers with a veritable horde of scantily-clad models filled 44 minutes of run-time, which in turn shaved years off the life-spans of millions of Americans. There was something about money, and briefcases, but that’s immaterial here.
Legends of the Hidden Temple
A favorite of many 80′s children now grown up — LOTHT as it’s known now was nothing short of epic to the average suburban American child. The fact that “ancient Mayan wheels” were actually just tire-swings, or that Olmec (the talking rock) sounded like he really wanted to be screaming Fabulous! every time he spoke were immaterial to the general viewing audience. This one lasted two years.
Bowling for Dollars
Don’t misunderstand — bowling is a fantastic sport, a great pass-time, and a great way to socialize. One thing bowling is not: Interesting. Adding money to the equation doesn’t change that sad fact, and Bowling for Dollars failed to break this cold, hard paradigm. One thing they did get right was their attempt to localize the game show. This show wasn’t a national event, but a local one to several cities, which were treated like parts of one large franchise. Not even that could spice things up.
First molesting cable television in 2003, Distraction started off in the U.S. and made its way to Europe (somehow). The show was based on the premise that a human being can’t think clearly enough to answer inane trivia questions while being bombarded with distractions — like ping pong balls. Needless to say, this one didn’t last too long, regardless of the country it was airing in.
Attempting to market off the mere presence of Dennis Miller, Amne$ia failed in less than two months flat. This show was so pointless, that it didn’t even make sense to begin with: Contestants were asked questions about events they spent with a friend or loved one, for some of the rounds, while other rounds were as random as games of pin the tail on the donkey. We’re betting Dennis Miller claims amnesia on this one ever happening.
John McEnroe made a brief but lucrative appearance on network television, hosting the monumental failure that was The Chair. Contestants were made to sit in a chair and answer questions while their heart rate was monitored for any sudden rise — with penalty points deducted if they lost their cool. This gem lasted barely three months before dying on the table in 2002, but don’t worry, McEnroe crossed the pond to host the show again, to a similar fate, in England later that year.
My Dad is Better than Your Dad
What could be worse than the title of this pathetic excuse for a game show? The look on the children’s faces as they discover that their fathers aren’t supermen, or even real men at all. Add the fact that millions of Americans are watching while their dads fail in front of them, and you’ve got prime-time gold. This show is just plain awful.
Family Feud is a show in which two families of below-average intelligence compete against each other by attempting to successfully answer questions posed to them. Those questions are supposed to be survey answers representative of the general population, but are in fact more akin to the ramblings of a syphilitic old man. The show’s most notable for having aired between Matlock and Murder, She Wrote. It’s just that boring.
Playing on humanity’s innate penchant for discrimination, Penn Jillette’s Identity basically had contestants place stereotypes on models, based solely off their looks and a bogus hint. This sociology exercise inevitably became more like a verbal Where’s Waldo and the whole thing tanked before most people could ever get used to it being there in the first place. Good riddance.
Titled with a phrase that hasn’t been used since 1996, Hurl! aired on G4 only a year ago, to an audience of dozens. The show’s only premise was vomit. Contestants were forced to eat until they couldn’t anymore, while being goaded into physical challenges that were almost sure to make them reverse flow. With the already tiny viewership G4 had, and the extreme niche-marketing of this sort of content, this show was doomed from the start.
Here we have the sad result of a cross-cultural idea-rape. Takeshi’s Castle, a wildly popular and very ridiculous large-scale game show in Japan which starred none other than Beat Takeshi himself, was eaten and poorly regurgitated state-side as Wipeout. That’s all that needs to be said about this waste of film. You’re better off watching MXC.
Hole in the Wall
Another Japanese game show that captured America’s attention, this time via YouTube video, Hole in the Wall was first known to us as Human Tetris. That was before most people thought it could ever come across the ocean and be ruined by American executives. This once-fun show was quickly turned into an overdone pile of fail, and viewers were quick to shun it. Nice try, Fox.