But I really don’t like game shows!
If you recall back about 20 years, the television landscape experienced a similar shift with the widespread expansion of reality TV. “Survivor” sparked it on mainstream network television, but “The Real World” on MTV also helped.
The networks became excited about lower cost, “high quality” programming and dove deep into the waters of reality and semi-scripted programming. The result has been years of “Bachelor”s, “Bachelorette”s and “Love Island”s. There was a brief respite when streaming kicked into high gear and well-written shows became the hot topic again, but COVID may have temporarily halted intelligent programming.
The result is a veritable cornucopia of game shows like “Holey Moley,” “Celebrity Family Feud” and “The Weakest Link.” These are the shows that typically were summer fodder, but with limited crews, limited scale and reduced ad budgets, the networks are going all-in on them.
I get it. Game shows are easy. There’s only a few people present. You can test everyone on set and keep them there until the show is over, then send them home. You can rotate in new people to existing sets, and the costs for production are minimal once you have the initial idea and set established.
Families are stuck at home and game shows are safe for everyone, with very little controversy associated with them.
That being said, game shows, other than “Jeopardy,” don’t keep me engaged. They are what I used to watch with my grandma, who loved them. Unfortunately, I miss my grandma and I don’t like game shows without her.
I worry that relying too much on game shows might hurt TV in the long run. I know a lot of people who are coming to the end of Netflix and Disney+. They have binge-watched everything they can, and they need new programming to keep them interested. Streaming seems more poised to refresh their programs than major networks will, and that could be a nail in the coffin for cable tv.
On either side of that coin, it comes down to who can respond and create engaging, intelligent shows that keep viewers coming back. COVID is here to stay, at least through the middle of next year. The folks in Hollywood are aware of that, and they will have to come up with a plan for more high-quality programming if they want the audience to stay with them. I think they are going to have to find a way to get back on track. If not, we just might have to look behind door number three.