The Weakest Links

When Weakest Link first premiered on prime-time, it was a total cheat. The basic premise was a regular game show but with a host who let the contestants know how stupid they were with the familiar comedy device, “acerbic jab with English accent”. The insults, however, were far-reaching and ambiguous. Every contestant, no matter how deserving (most of them) or undeserving (a few others), received the same degree of scripted, uninspiring humiliation. For today’s daytime syndicated version, the red-haired lady and her English accent haven replaced by some blond guy and his weak soul patch. The contestants are just as dim-witted, but this time, the host does actually take the time to tailor some of his verbal abuse to the specific shortcomings of players (their clothes are a favorite target). Sadly, this ability to “evaluate information and expound upon it”, otherwise known as “thinking”, makes him the best game show host on daytime. This is an amazing fact itself and should be quickly clarified before I explain why I hate Weakest Link contestants.

The new host of Family Feud is Al from Home Improvement. He is affable and prefers hugging the families instead of making out with them but apparently has no ability to process words in real time (one of the things I look for in television personalities). He prefers to free-associate. When someone, for example, guessed “birds” in response to the survey, “Name something in the sky besides a plane,” this was his typical reaction as he pointed to the big board: “Birds….birds…. birds in the hand, eats like a bird, show me birds!”

Meredith Vieira, host of the syndicated version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, has similar problems with using language on the spot. To her credit, the patter with contestants about their names and occupations is competent. Unfortunately, it’s a different case when it comes to her in-game management. On virtually every question, she tries to cleverly work the player’s answer into a hopeless stab at creating suspense where there is none. Case in point: When a man guessed “aspirin”, she paused before saying, “Well… I’m sorry… you may need some aspirin after this… because you might have a headache from all the applause, you’re right!” Wow, did you see how, at first, she made it seem like he was wrong because why else would you need aspirin, but then she reversed it with a witty little twist?! Never mind that it wasn’t actually witty and no one cared because it was only a $1000 dollar question. Bravo Vieira!

Donny Osmond is the host of the new Pyramid. That should tell you enough, but if it doesn’t, the fact he does an Austin Powers impersonation every episode should.

So, back to Weakest Link contestants. That they miss questions like “What state is Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in?” is bad enough, but to hate quiz show contestants because of their inability to answer grade-school level questions would be beside the point. Every game show has their fair show of those. What sets them apart is their unbelievable capacity for self-delusion.

If you aren’t familiar with the show, contestants are routinely voted off by other players, after which they take the “walk of shame” and talk to the camera. I wish they would talk to the hand (that ones for you, Al, feel free to use it)! This is when each and every one will explain why “Gary” or “Shandra” or “Todd from Oklahoma” is the one who actually deserved to be the one voted off. It was these other people who were actually “the weakest link” or “had it in for me from the start” or “took too long to answer” or “ought to be gone because they missed the question about The Brady Bunch!” Of course, each and every person saying these things, invariably, were the most deserving to be voted off. The farce continues after the final face-off between the last two standing. The loser inevitably rationalizes that “if I got the questions she got, I would have won!”

I suppose this attitude could be extended to the lack of accountability and common sense, the general equivocation present in all of society. I must pray this is not the case, these people are not a cross-section of the population, and that by some amazing coincidence only the most ill-bred and deluded are chosen for Weakest Link. Because, man, I really hate them. I really do. Almost as much as I hate Donny Osmond.