Steve Harvey’s Family Feud (189th new thing).

October 20, 2011 § 3 Comments

When the Game Show Network first came on the air in the mid nineties, it quickly became my go-to channel for mindless time-wasting. My favorite show was Match Game, a seventies original which featured a panel of possibly drunk pseudo-celebrities including Richard Dawson. Dawson later hosted the spin-off show, Family Feud, and was infamous for his amorous greetings of female contestants. The Richard Dawson-hosted version of this long running game show is still one of those shows that I will flip to if I find it airing.

After the Dawson years, Family Feud started back up with Ray Combs as the host. Between then and now the show has been hosted by Louie Anderson, Richard Karn from Home Improvement, John O’Hurley from Seinfeld, and now Steve Harvey. Harvey is in his second year of hosting and this year moved the show from Orlando to Atlanta, to the Atlanta Civic Center. On Day One Hundred Eighty-Nine I dragged Patrick along to a taping.

We arrived at the Civic Center by 3:30PM, just as my contact who guest-listed us had instructed me to do. We had to leave our cell phones in and cameras in the car (it was really that secretive) and were told to sit in a row of chairs already occupied by about a dozen people. And then we sat and waited, and waited, and sat some more while a loop of past episodes played on a TV just out of our line of vision.

We waited for two hours before we were even ready to walk into the studio, built above the stage and first several rows of seats in the theater. Without his smartphone, Patrick was in a ripe mood of annoyance. Perhaps he wasn’t the best companion for this activity.

Once we walked into the studio, much to Patrick’s displeasure, we were placed in the front row. The woman who had been sitting next to us in the row of waiting chairs outside exclaimed how lucky we were as she confided in us that she had been to multiple tapings over the summer. She waved and called out hello to a production assistant walking quickly down the line of people, but the girl seemed to be rushing purposefully by. Fan lady let us into the secret that once you get to know some of the staff they call you back a lot. It was all very uncomfortable.

The warm up MC came out once everyone was crowded into their chairs, and he gave us the rundown. We practiced clapping to the beat, at which point I began intentionally clapping to the off-beat. I stepped back in line quickly as MC Man looked glaringly at Patrick, who was visibly unnerved. The guy went through the rules of talking to Steve Harvey during the commercial breaks (don’t ask him for a job, or to support your child at his camp) and ran through the list of when to cheer, make an “Awww” sound, and clap. We practiced them all.

And that was all before the show even began.

The show itself was another experience altogether. The two families were ushered out, one a bevy of mostly pregnant Arizona blondes, and the other a local family led by a model sister who Harvey seemed to enjoy chatting up “for his son.” Frankly, it was creepy.

It was even more uncomfortable when the host talked about how moms are supposed to be full-figured and buxom, right in front of the skinny pregnant ladies. He also brought up the book The Secret at any available moment during commercials, preaching about the power of Christianity and making ourselves better. Though I wasn’t particularly impressed with the comedian’s proselytizing, he had plenty of followers in the audience that nodded and applauded their agreement.

But the most uncomfortable parts of the afternoon were the game show’s questions. “What would be in a man’s pocket on a first date?” Answers: “Wallet.” “Cell Phone.” “A Pitched Tent.”

“What kind of woman ‘works hard for her money’?” “Waitress.” “Stripper.” “A ‘Ho.”

Steve Harvey’s Family Feud is a far cry from the early Richard Dawson days I remember watching growing up. And I could never imagine Louie Anderson hamming it up with his big white teeth and shiny suits that way Harvey did at all of the show’s below the belt attempts at humor.

I will try to remember to check out this season and see if Patrick or I made it on the small screen in a brief audience flash, but please forgive me if I forget. I think GSN may be airing Match Game reruns.

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