Get in the Game
Derek James and his wife, Kristen, both game-show fans, outside the "The Price Is Right" studio in Los Angeles.
Photo by Derek James
When I was a little kid I wanted to be a Bob. Not just any Bob though. I wanted to be Bob Newhart or Bob Barker. (We watched a lot of CBS growing up). My dream of being either a psychologist or innkeeper was fairly short-lived as my dream of being a game-show icon quickly took over. To this day, my mother swears my first full phrase as a baby was “come on down!” I’ve been a game show mega-fan ever since. I’m such a superfan that as a 12-year-old I would pretend to be sick when it was tournament week on “The $100,000 Pyramid” so I could watch. Thank goodness we have DVRs these days. And yes, I still want to be a game-show host.
I luckily married a fellow game-show superfan. While dating, one of the first big trips my wife Kristen and I took together was to Los Angeles to see a taping of “The Price Is Right” and our favorite game-show host Bob Barker. I was lucky enough to be one of the first four contestants called down to contestant’s row. I was so excited that I bear-hugged Kristen and then threw her aside so I could run down the aisle. I won an HDTV but lost in a spin-off on the Big Wheel in the Showcase Showdown. More importantly, my dream of meeting Bob Barker came true. The mutual love of game shows between my wife and I means we are raising the next generation of game-show fans.
I believe that game shows are one of the best things you can watch on TV with your kids. One big exception being “Family Feud” as there’s absolutely nothing “family” about Steve Harvey’s version. The program is filled with vulgar jokes about male and female anatomy, strippers and going to the bathroom. “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Price Is Right” are two great places to start. There aren’t many game shows specifically created for kids. Our kids favorite, the Emmy-award winning “Family Game Night,” went off the air a few years ago. You can still find some full episodes on YouTube.
Game shows are warm and fuzzy, even when the rest of the world isn’t. It’s fun to cheer for regular people who have a chance to win their first new car or an amount of money they may never have in their bank account otherwise. They’re also incredibly simple shows in most cases, which is why a toddler can pick them up.
Game shows teach an important number of life lessons. Kids can learn how to follow rules, analyze options, make a plan and show good sportsmanship. Sometimes the contestant wins, sometimes they don’t, but they finish with their head held high and are applauded for how they play the game. Game shows are also a good lesson on not giving up. Even if the odds may not always be in your favor, it is possible to turn things around.
Game shows also are an infusion of joy. Watching contestants’ elation at winning always makes me happy. While I may never get the opportunity to be a part of those euphoric moments as a host on set, it’s just as fun watching with my family at home or hosting a game show for them. If you are looking for a host and reading this, call my agent Joel Weisman ASAP.
Derek James is a WCCB News Rising anchor and lives in Charlotte with his wife and their two sons, ages 6 and 9.