Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Price is Wrong

Television game show host Bob Barker may have had one of the most drawn-out and celebrated "retirements" in television history. (I use scare quotes, because we all know in the entertainment industry -- old stars never fade away, they just die.)

Yet after so much adieu, Barker's still on television, hosting The Price is Right in reruns until FreMantle Media, a wing of the RTL Group, finds a replacement.

Aside from the obvious consideration -- that it's really hard to miss someone when they won't go away -- it's important when considering Barker's pop culture status not to overlook the other influence the game show has had on how women are perceived.

After 35 seasons, the show has become an American institution, and one that perpetuates the idea that women are to be seen and not heard. The show has sleathily passed on the torch of quiet oppression throughout the years (I'll save you the argument: "Oh, but we are just jealous! They are the smart women! Look how much money they make!) on to "modern" game shows such as the mindless "Deal or No Deal."

But why should we begrudge a woman for working in one of what I've read are the two highest paid professions, the other being illegal in every state but Nevada and Rhode Island. (Rhode Island? I'm still trying to figure that out, too.)

Paramount, games are supposed to be fun, right, so where's the harm in some provocatively-decorated sex kittens fondling a new washing machine?

Women hosting television game shows are rare. If asked, you'll probably be able to name only the villainous Anne Robinson from "The Weakest Link." Or maybe the Stepford-like Meredith Viera who sits at the helm of " Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" in syndication.

You may have never thought about the effect that the "game show" subculture has had, but consider this: game shows are the most male-dominated field in television, with the exception of professional football announcers.

Even if you choose to take the devil's advocate-approach and counter that game shows are only a reflection of society, one thing is for sure: in the circus world of game shows, the man is always the ringmaster, and the women are always the sideshow.


  1. Rosie O'Donnell was wanting Barker's old gig but didn't get it. Yes, she's "controversial" to some, but I think they would have jumped at a chance to get any other star and known daytime ratings grabber. Perhaps they were worried that those eye candy "Barker Girls" would have taken on a whole new meaning if the host was an out lesbian.

  2. There was Dog Eat Dog. That's all I got.

  3. Personnaly, I think that Rikki Lake would be great. She's proven that she can handle it (they had that "Game Show tournament recently), and the Price was one of them.

  4. Rikki Lake was REALLY good on The Price Is Right during that evening special ... I was thinking of mentioning that.

    And that is huge, because I am a HUGE fan of Bob Barker, and I had never really given Rikki Lake a chance before that.