The Upsetting Reality of Rigged Game Shows

We are often amazed when we watch people achieve extraordinary feats on television, particularly those who win large prizes on game shows by exhibiting unbelievable breadth of knowledge or skill. However, it is equally heartbreaking to find out that some of those shows are actually rigged.

In the back of our minds, we sometimes wonder whether reality shows are candid or scripted. Oftentimes, we exercise a healthy dose of skepticism toward these shows as we know how studios and networks need good ratings to get sponsorships and advertising revenues.

But for brief moments, there's a suspension of disbelief that occurs as we watch these reality shows, and we think maybe these are real. There has been a history of cheating or rigging in game shows, starting with the scandals around Charles van Doren and the game show Twenty One.

This prompted an intervention by the FCC and the passing of a law by Congress that prohibited networks from fixing outcomes on game shows. That resulted in ratings plummeting and the general public distrust of game shows, until a renaissance brought about by shows like Survivor in the 2000s. But even then, game shows seemed to have reverted to their old rigging ways.

Now, although allegations had surfaced about how Survivor producers had interfered in the first season of the show, and that they approached contestants about whom to vote, no investigations had been made by the FCC as the charges were dropped and the two parties involved reached a private settlement.

Meanwhile, another show, Our Little Genius, has been alleged of rigging as well, but producers seem to be preempting any investigation from being done by simply not airing episodes. Will the FCC once again intervene?

(Video credit: Vox)

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