>An article about The Price is Right in the New York Times Arts section caught my eye on Tuesday as I was looking for the crossword puzzle (which, annoyingly I did not finish – I swear senility is setting in folks). When my sister and I were growing up, we loooooved The Price is Right. As the Times article asks:
Who under 50… did not spend dozens of childhood mornings zoned out on the couch, playing along with the Dice Game or screaming at the fool from San Diego about to overbid on a bag of corn chips?
Sister and I can do one better than that. It was just that much more fun to cheer on contestants when you pretended that you were related to them. For example, we might decide that an elderly contestant was our grandfather. Helping “Grandpa” win by shouting at the TV was about as effective as my dad yelling at the Bears to make certain plays, but it really did add an extra level of excitement. (However, the entire house did not shake in the same way when we jumped up and down while watching Price as it did when my dad did so as he watched the Bears.) Ah, those were the days, I tell ya.
Beyond evoking warm-fuzzy childhood memories of wasting away in front of the tube, the Price article also made some surprisingly good points about the type of contestants on many game shows these days. Bob Barker himself noted:
On most game shows today you will see contestants between 20 and 45 who are physically attractive. We have people on 'The Price Is Right' who are between 20 and 45 who are physically attractive too…But we have people who, when they became 18, the first thing they did was come to 'The Price Is Right,' and I had a big winner on a recent show who was 95. We deliberately select contestants that are black, white and brown. We deliberately pick contestants from all over the United States. We have fat people, thin, short, tall, you name it.
Seriously, when was the last time that a fat woman appeared on TV unless it was a weight loss show or talk show episode that highlighted the deviant status of women who did not fit the paradigm of womanliness in popular culture? (Of which being fat was usually only one sin; the others usually include being poor and/or not white, such as the ever popular and classic “You Dress Too Sexy for Your Weight.”)
We’ve hit a sad state of affairs when I’m looking at The Price is Right as a model of positive television.