The History and Production of TV Game Shows (9-12)

Game shows have been a part of our culture for more than three generations, and during that time they have developed into an art form. They have their own history, and have both affected and been affected by the culture of the times. This course will address these cultural connections by examining the genre in two ways: chronologically, including the quiz show scandals of the late 1950s, the “mod” shows of the 1960s and 1970s, and the big-money shows that began in the 1980s and have continued to proliferate in the new millennium; and categorically, considering what it takes to develop and produce a successful game show. Would shows successful in the 1950s survive today? Why have shows like The Price is Right and Jeopardy! lasted for more than forty years? In addition to watching and discussing videos of a variety of game shows, the class will get behind-the-scenes information from producers, hosts, and writers – including attending one or more tapings – that they will use to create a new version of one of the classics! Students will make two major presentations during the course: one involving a game show discussed in class, and one involving their own creation.

If you enjoy game shows and want to learn more about the ways in which these shows reflect and are shaped by American culture, this is the class for you.

David Hammett and Kathryn Byrne