Television game shows in the U.S. have been part of the television phenomenon since 1940. They come in different forms and premises: Some are based on dating, singles, couples, newlyweds, brain teasers, comedy, and drama. The genre evolves with each generation, creating unusual—and sometimes controversial—programs.
Still today, game shows provide opportunities for contestants and viewers alike to compete for money and prizes by providing answers to questions or questions for the answers. Let’s take a trip through the realm of quiz giveaway shows.
Studs was one of the most-viewed TV game show in the 90s with an average of 3 million viewers at night. Hosted by dating specilaist Mark DeCarlos, Studs was a (brief) phenomenon when it became syndicated on Fox affiliates. The show involved two male contestants who go on separate, one-on-one dates with each one of three female contestants. At the taping of the show, each man guessed which female contestant said one of three answers, usually a double entendre. The man who is chosen as the "stud" over the other man qualifies for another date. The sexually suggestive talk was totally scripted, making this provocative program the precursor for the heated and scandalous ones to come in later years.
Match Game (1962-present)
Match Game was an exciting game show from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and all the way through today that went through multiple incarnations on different networks and in syndication. Hosts included Gene Rayburn (1962-1982), Ross Shafer (1990-1991), Michael Burger (1998-1999), Ricki Lake (2006), and award-winning actor Alec Baldwin, who fronts the 2016 revival that still airs today.
Each week the show featured contestants vying to win $25,000 as they try to match the answers of six celebrities in a fill-in-the blank game loaded with double entendres. The show was a big hit when it debuted on NBC. The producers revived Match Game after its original run in 1973, and it ran until 1983, earning numerous accolades along the way. Favorite celebrity panelists often seen on the set included Vicki Lawrence, Charles Nelson Riley, Brett Somers, Richard Dawson, and Betty White.
Singled Out (1995-1998)
Among the most '90s programs to have ever aired, Singled Out was a TV dating game show that ran from 1995 to 1998 on MTV, hosted by Jenny McCarthy and Chris Hardwick. The game featured 50 single men and 50 single ladies. Each of the men competed to have a date with one of the women, and vice versa. After several rounds, a winner emerged from both genders and they went on a sponsored date.
What Would You Do? (1991-1993)
Not all great game shows were for adults. What Would You Do? was a children's TV game show hosted by Marc Summers that aired on Nickelodeon from 1991 to 1993. Various unusual scenarios were filmed with children or families. During the show the segment would stop before the conclusion, and the audience was asked, “What would you do?” The audience voted on potential outcomes, the results were tallied, and the tape played to its conclusion. Sometimes guest stars appeared and performed messy stunts or gross tricks to amaze the audience.
The Price is Right (1956-present)
Maybe you didn't forget about this one, but no matter what type of list, it wouldn’t be complete without mentioning The Price is Right. This iconic TV game show is the longest-running program in network and syndication TV. It debuted in 1956 with host Bill Cullen, but when Bob Barker became the host in 1972, the show truly gained its legendary status. Barker hosted for more than 30 years, until 2007 when Drew Carey took over the reins.
Several generations grew up watching the The Price is Right and continue to be armchair fans, aspire to be in the audience, or be actual contestants. The show involves choosing contestants randomly from the audience, who bid on the prices of various merchandise. The winner is invited on stage to play games and spin a wheel to earn different prizes, culminating with the grand finale, better known as the Showcase Showdown. The top two contestants try to win the prize-stuffed showcase by guessing the total price of the merchandise.