During lunch yesterday, I watched the first episode of ABC’s new reality series called I Survived a Japanese Game Show.
In it, 10 Americans who know next to nothing about Japan get on a plane and go to Tokyo. The day after they arrive, they’re taken to a TV studio where a live audience and a game show host await. They divvy up into two teams—the Green Monkeys and the Yellow Penguins—and take part in this silly game where they run on a treadmill and feed mochi off their heads to a teammate. The winners get a helicopter ride; the losers have to work as rickshaw drivers in Asakusa.
While I’m not really one to judge, there were a few things about this show that made me want to barf. Bullet points after the jump.
– The overdose of sensationalism. Bad enough that the
premise of the show is to go to "crazy Japan!" The show completely over-dramatized Japanese culture. The audience
members carried old school Japanese drums. The dressing room at the
studio had shoji, traditional paper doors—obviously a set. And when the
losers went to Asakusa to drive rickshaws, the commentary for the show
said something like: "Rickshaws are still a common mode of
transportation in downtown Tokyo." Um, yeah. Just like horse-drawn
carriages are still a common mode of transportation in midtown
– The task-based, reality-show style format only captures
Japanese humor at the most surface level. Sure, it’s funny to watch
grown humans falling into a sandbox full of flour; but after watching
several rounds, I was bored. In a real Japanese game show, there are
live commentaries by panels of celebrities, and the host is constantly upping the ante for the tasks. And there’s always a horrible punishment at the end (a common one is jumping into a tub full of freezing cold water) and a random prize, like crab legs or a year’s supply of rice. The task in Japanese Game Show was easy and static. It was boring. There was no commentary except by the overenthusiastic host.
The only funny thing about it was that the subtitles for the Japanese host didn’t always match what he was really saying.