A Trend We Love: Turning Childhood Fantasies Into Game Shows
No one told any of us that the floor was lava. We were all born knowing it. Humans are naturally granted the knowledge that unless we walk on the couches and dining table chairs, we will be burned alive by a carpeted floor. Netflix is trying to capture the fun of that childhood game in a Ninja Warrior-style game show called Floor Is Lava, where adult contestants leap from one obstacle to another while trying to avoid the "lava" below.
Using real lava creates too many thorny legal issues, so it's really just red water that makes the course look like the floor of a slaughterhouse. Disney+ just premiered a similar Star Wars-themed game show of its own inspired by Legends of the Hidden Temple where kids compete in physical and mental challenges with the ultimate goal of assembling their own lightsabers and becoming a Jedi.
Meanwhile, ABC has Steph Curry's mini-golf game show, and Fox just debuted Ultimate Tag, which is would playground tag would be if it were sponsored by HGH.
Jeopardy! And Wheel of Fortune are some of the last traditional game shows where contestants stand behind a podium answering questions. The rest of the game show landscape is dominated by big-budget extravaganzas that have more in common with American Gladiators than Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Reaching back to childhood feels like a logical leap for a genre that's become more entranced by spectacle than smarts, for better or worse.
Let's reach back beyond our childhoods to the childhoods of people who've been dead for hundreds of years to find inspiration for a show based on the classic childhood game of pushing a hoop with a stick. Kids will have to push their hoops through treacherous obstacles like cobblestone streets and the bloated horse corpses lying on them. The aforementioned Ultimate Tag is a hit, so why not adapt its evolutionary cousin Man Hunt into a show. Two teams playing a large-scale game of tag with home bases that need protection and then give them guns. That one writes itself. But we need some that bring childhood fantasies to life like Floor is Lave and Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge.
How about a show where a kid who dreams of being a firefighter or a doctor or a superstar athlete when they grow up gets a small taste of their dream through a series of fun simulations where they, for instance, have to resuscitate a baby dying of smoke inhalation. Or they have to patch up heroin junkie's stab wound on their 13th hour of an E.R. double shift. Or they have play four quarters of full-contact tackle football on no sleep after a wild night with a Miami stripper while dodging calls from their spouse. Networks, these ideas are a goldmine. I patiently await your trucks of money.
Luis can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Catch him on the "In Broad Daylight" podcast with Cracked alums Adam Tod Brown and Ian Fortey! Check out his regular contributions to Macaulay Culkin's BunnyEars.com and his "Meditation Minute" segments on the Bunny Ears podcast. Listen to the first episode on Youtube!
Top Image: Netflix