What is it about game shows that bring the whole family around the television? America can’t get enough of finishing sentences, questioning answers, predicting the top five answers in a survey, guessing the price behind door number three and answering useless but fun trivia.
The Newlywed Game (1966- 2000)
Though it has aired in many forms, with a number of hosts since its inception, seeing newlyweds clash and stumble over how well they thought they knew each other never gets old. Never a dull moment, The Newlywed Game made for some of the most outrageous, cringeworthy moments in TV history. With questions like “What is your husband’s biggest flaw?”, “Which one of your wife’s friends would you go out with?” and “What’s the weirdest place you’ve had the urge to make whoopee?” you knew the responses were not to be missed.
Family Feud (1976- 1985; 1988- 1993; 1999- present)
Now that we’ve got the husbands and wives involved, let’s bring all the family into it! Not quite as cutthroat as the Montague’s and Capulets, but Family Feud pits two families against each other, competing to guess the most popular answers in a survey, and win a cash prize. Winning families could come back and compete in the Tournament of Champions for an even greater sum of money. Survey says! Aside from also producing a board game, video game and celebrity family episodes, a version of Family Feud has been adapted in more than 40 countries around the globe.
Wheel of Fortune (1975- present)
Originally hosted by game show magnate Chuck Woolery, the dynamic duo of Pat Sajak and Vanna White have been on the show together since 1983. It’s the longest running syndicated talk show for a reason- elements of ‘hangman’ are complemented by word puzzles and a carnival wheel that awards cash prizes. Wheel of Fortune’s popularity might also stem from the fact that every contestant has the potential to walk away with prizes and cash- not just the ultimate winner. Gotta spread the love around right?
Jeopardy! (1964- 1975; 1978- present)
Hey, high-brow intellectuals need their game show fix too! On the Jeopardy! gameboard there are 6 categories with 5 questions, each worth a different cash value- as the $ amount increases, so do the question’s difficulty. Get it right, and you win that cash amount. But contestants must come up with the question, as opposed to the answer, responding with “What is….?”. The cash at stake and difficulty increases until the final round when, contestants must answer the Final Jeopardy! Challenge and make a wager with the cash they’ve amassed in the previous rounds. You could lead in all the previous rounds, but one bad wager and incorrect answer will trip you up at the end. Don’t let that Final Jeopardy! tune distract you! An iconic game, that is most commonly associated with its host since 1984 Alex Trebek, there is also routinely a Celebrity Jeopardy! edition (and let’s stop to appreciate the amazing Jeopardy! spoof sketches from SNL!) Being crowned a Jeopardy! Champion is akin to a pop culture IQ diploma.
The Price is Right (1956- 1965; 1972- present)
On Jeopardy!, braniacs delight in answering questions about art history and the dates of military battles, but on The Price is Right, the Average Joe has to guess the price of everyday products like dishwashing liquid, coffee and food cans. Guess correctly and you win that item, while graduating on to bigger prizes like boats, cars and paid vacations. Then you have to spin the wheel and make it to the Showcase. Host Bob Barker stepped down in 2007 after 35 years, giving way to Drew Carey. The audience is always excited and raucous- just being in the crowd makes you a potential contestant. You just have to wait until your name is called and then “Come on down!” And don’t forget to spay or neuter your pets.