Editor's note: In this article content creator Caysie shares her opinion on how game shows can be viewed as dystopian and immoral.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love a good episode of the Chase. I like playing along with the cash builders, and rooting for Bradders’ team to win…
But you can’t say that shows like Squid Game don’t have a sad essence of reality, and it’s time we talked about it.
Exploitation and Humiliation
Guests on these shows are often forced to perform humiliating acts in order to win money, and entertain us at home.
We can see this on quiz shows, as a mild example. It’s easy for us to sit at home and scream at our screens at the ‘thick’ contestants when they get simple questions wrong or take a low offer in hopes to earn at least some money.
This is all the more tragic when you consider that some guests have genuine reasons for going on the show, beyond wanting their five minutes of fame.
From watching these shows, a sad amount of people go on these shows to pay off their mortgages, retire, or renovate their homes in line with accessibility needs as they get older.
People should not have to publicly humiliate themselves and announce their financial struggles to the world in order to live comfortably - especially if they don’t actually win!
Stripping Viewers of Empathy
I recently saw a clip on Facebook of a radio show segment called ‘Jury of Seven’, where guests go on the show to plead their case as to why they should win £10,000.
A guest came on the show to ask for the £10,000 to have her teeth fixed as she had miscarried twins and been given prednisone, which weakens the bones. This made her teeth fall out, and her surviving sons began to suffer verbal abuse at school.
Classmates called their mum a ‘druggie’, and people made assumptions about this guest because of her physical appearance, which has caused her to struggle with her mental health.
It was then put to a ‘jury of seven’. While six agreed, one ‘juror’ commented:
“I think the crying is too much, I think she’s lying.”
A host, Kyle, then remarks:
“That’s it then, she doesn’t get the money.”
She is then asked if she was “actually telling the truth, or making it all up for cash”. The guest breaks down in tears and swears on her “two little boys in heaven” that she was telling the truth.
While the hosts then offered her the money anyway, it is absolutely horrifying that the ‘jurors’ could hear such a tragic story, and accuse her of lying about it for money.
To make matters worse, this whole ordeal was publicised, and at the time of writing this the clip currently has 118k views on Facebook.
Commenters were quick to praise the hosts, with cries of “you’re the best, Kyle & Jackie”, and very little empathy for the guest herself.
The hosts then used this video as an opportunity to promote their sponsors and show, captioning the video: ‘💔 will she get the $10,000? It’s up to the Jury of 7!! Thanks to My Kitchen Rules on Channel 7 & 7Plus #KJShow’.
These shows turn people’s suffering into entertainment, and it is disgusting - Orwellian, even.
Emphasis on Materialism, and Materialism Over Values
But it’s also an example of what these kinds of shows can do to the contestants psychologically, and how quickly people can turn on each other as soon as money is involved.
Stupid spats, petty arguments and snide remarks can be a quick way for contestants to ruin each other’s nights in an attempt to grab the cash, and bring out the worst in each other - all available to watch on daytime telly! Fancy that.
We’re taking people that are strapped for cash and turning them into café-fighting animals…
Going back to the ‘you won’ clip: it’s funny to watch, but it’s probably plagued that man’s life.
I’m not saying you can never watch game-shows again. That’s absurd.
But adopt an air of scepticism. How much of what you are seeing is real? How much is dramatised for the camera? And how much is pure desperation?
Moreso, ask yourself why you think what you’re seeing is entertaining - because the reason is probably a lot more sinister than you originally thought.
If you’d like to watch some light-hearted, genuinely wholesome gameshows, here are a few I recommend: