Reviews

Bullsh*t: The Game Show

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Game Show;
Not rated.
Hosted by Howie Mandel.

You know how quiz shows typically require contestants to actually know something in order to win? Well, Netflix must have seen enough of that bullshit, and now presents the perfect game show for anyone who has no idea what they’re talking about but acts like the smartest person in the room anyway.

The appropriately named “Bullshit” gives one lucky player a chance to win $1 million by answering 10 relatively esoteric trivia questions. There are two ways to move up to the next level: actually selecting the correct answer, or convincing a panel of would-be geniuses that they know what the correct answer is despite being completely full of shit.

In emphasizing the explanation rather than the answer itself, “Bullshit” is like an ass-backwards version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,” which often encouraged its contestants to annoyingly explain why they were choosing their answer.

On “Bullshit,” players are presented four multiple-choice answers on a touchscreen in front of them, and once they select an answer only they are shown if it’s correct or not. They are then prompted by host Howie Mandel to explain the answer to three challengers who have to gauge whether the player is telling the truth. If they got the answer right, they move on. If they were wrong, they have to hope at least one of the panelists falls for their bullshit of an explanation, or they’re eliminated.

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The prospective bullshitters are given two opportunities per game to lock in at a winning level, so that when they eventually get eliminated they won’t lose more than that amount. It’s rather amusing how many players actually choose to lock in at the basement $1,000 level out of fear of leaving without anything, only to not have access to that lock later in the game when the potential losses are exponentially higher.

The challengers serving on the panel of so-called bullshit detectors have their own incentive to correctly guess if the player is lying to them or not. When the game ends, the panelist who has been most accurate in calling bullshit gets to play for the million dollars next.

While this gameplay mechanic supposedly serves as a disincentive for a panelist always taking a player’s side just to see them continue to move up the money ladder, it does raise some questions about what the panelists might do when the player approaches the million. Some of them just like yelling “bullshit” on every answer. But if a panelist has no shot of advancing to becoming the main player, and a million dollars is on the line, would they vote just to see the person win? A game with a cynical title like “Bullshit” probably expects all its participants to vote out of spite.

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Mandel, no stranger to game show settings, keeps the proceedings appropriately absurd — no surprise given a premise that is obviously geared toward comedic reactions. God forbid anyone actually knows an answer.

The first season runs for 10 half-hour episodes. While some contestants’ runs are mercifully short, others are spread across multiple episodes, which are treated as cliffhangers by Mandel in typical game show fashion. This comes off as a bit odd given that it’s Netflix and the next episode plays automatically right away. But editing tropes and traditions are what they are, I guess — just as much bullshit as anything else.

 

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