I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with “Reality TV” and all these newfangled gameshows. I’m not sure when gameshows started being called Reality TV, but that’s just the way it is nowadays.

The best one by far was The Mole, but it only lasted two or three beautiful seasons. It was intelligent and audience could play along as much as the contestants themselves, looking for clues and trying to solve the mystery by the end of the season. But “the smartest show on television” was, apparently, too much for the general public.

Over Christmas there was a new one called Identity, which was great because we could superficially judge people based on their appearance and win money for it. My sister and I had lots of fun yelling at the TV during that one.

“Number twelve has bigger boobs! She’s the Las Vegas Showgirl!”

Recently the big show on campus has been Deal or No Deal, which makes heavy use of the very popular element of suspence but not much else. “Choose a briefcase and then we’ll spend an hour telling you how much you won!”

But I don’t know what to make of FOX’s new gameshow, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Whereas Who Wants to be a Millionaire? asked genuinely difficult (or at least obscure) big money questions, this show does the opposite. While I think all quiz shows have a test to see if you’re smart enough, this one must require you to fail it. It’s both satisfying to watch (because I know all almost all the answers, except for some of the USA specific ones) but ridiculously annoying at the same time:

“ORANGE! Red and yellow make orange!”

“The sun is the closest star to Earth! No, I don’t need a commercial break for suspense before you tell us the answer, it’s the sun! THE FREAKING SUN! THAT BIG BRIGHT BALL OF FIRE ABOVE YOU!”

Suspense doesn’t really work on this one. There was no million-dollar question tonight—the contestant bowed out for not knowing how many years are in two millenia. The category, though, was “5th Grade Physical Sciences”. If I could get on that show all my financial problems would be solved. Unfortunately I suspect my Bachelor’s in Physics will disqualify me…

Addendum: If you’re interested, here’s a blog post on the statistics of winning Deal or No Deal.

Random FAQ Comments (17)

17 Responses to “Smarter than a fifth grader”

  1. Anita says:

    I watched a celebrity Deal or No Deal the other day! (I never watch game shows so this is an occassion which warrants special mention). Anyway, the guy (Big Brother winner, Gay Farmer David) actually picked the winning case! It got down to the last two cases — one contained the 200,000, the other had something small like $500. He made a deal for $60,000. His face was priceless when he opened the case and realised he had the winner all along.

    As for Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?…. The mind reels. Reels! I’m glad we don’t have that one in Australia yet… (Rupert Murdoch to his minions: I can sell ANYTHING! The public is my bitch! I have media OWNAGE! Look at what they watch because I tell them to! *maniacal laughter*)

  2. GP says:

    It is pretty sad. It’s also sad that I realised from watching it that I can’t spell “allegiance”. And anyway, if I did do the show the US History, US Geography, or all the questions about teaspoons and miles would throw me off. Seriously. Who cares how long a mile is? NOBODY!

  3. Anita says:

    Isn’t America archaic? The metric system just makes so much more sense!

  4. David says:

    The girl on the episode you’re mentioning had a 3.3 GPA at a community college and is currently a computer consultant.

    Yuck. Computer consultant my ass. She didn’t know that there were 200 decades in 2 millenia.

  5. Ian says:

    I’m so upset! I am an English major, and though I don’t claim to be an Einstein, I feel like “Smarter Than a 5th Grader” made a mistake on one of their questions, and I can’t stand it! I can’t remember the exact phrasing of the question, but it was something like, “How many adjectives are in the following sentence: ‘On the hot day, drink two glasses of cold water.’”
    Everyone said three: “hot,” “two,” and “cold.” These modify the nouns “day,” “glasses,” and “water.” But the answer should be four! “The” is an adjective modifying “day.”
    Okay, I’ve typed this out so now I am supposed to feel better. Instead I feel more uptight than ever and now have to go drink the (adjective) five (adjective) very (adverb) cold (adjective) beers (noun) in (preposition) my (adjective) refrigerator (noun.)
    Thanks for humoring me!

  6. GP says:

    I agree with you, Ian! I would have said 3, but your explanation makes perfect sense.

    There a question the other day that I thought was wrong too, but it was only wrong at a university level or something like that, so I couldn’t really justify getting mad about it.

  7. Ed says:

    Well, I’m not an English major, but I know that the word “the” is a definite article, not an adjective.

  8. Michele says:

    I am a 6th grade English teacher and you are both correct. “a”, “an” and “the” are articles. Articles are adjectives!!! Of course, this in not a level of grammer that is discussed at a 5th grade level.

  9. Lori says:

    I’m a fourth grade teacher and Michele should have spelled grammar correctly.

  10. GP says:

    I noticed a spike in traffic tonight, apparently due to someone finally getting to the million dollar question on “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” this past evening (Thursday, April 19th).

    I didn’t see it, but my friend David told me that the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION was: “Who was the first Secretary of the Treasury?” (in the USA, of course.) The answer is Alexander Hamilton. Unfortunately, the guy quit with half a million rather than risk getting a question he didn’t know the answer to. It’s unfortunate because, apparently, he did know it, and lost out on doubling his money.

    I hope the people flooding in from Google scroll down and see this post, so their they get their click’s worth.

  11. Emily says:

    And then last night the contestant got to the million dollar question, and dropped out. The question was “What is the lowest prime number that is a factor of 16?”
    Not only does that seem REALLY EASY for the million dollar question (which I know is picked by the contestant based off of what he’s already chosen throughout the show)? Even my mom, who hasn’t taken math since high school (33 years ago), knew the answer.
    And yet the guy wouldn’t have even gotten it right! What in the hell?

  12. Jake says:

    Sure, it’s easy enough if you’re not an idiot who gets scared of words like “prime” and “factor”. (It’s 2, by the way, frightened idiots out there.)

  13. the kid says:

    im am an 8th grader (in canada) all the questions asked are sooooo easy. and who doesnt know the factors of 16 r even numbers and the only even prime number is 2!!!!!

  14. Will says:

    I’m watching “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” right now. The question was “The Liberty Bell hangs in the tower of Independence Hall in which U.S. city?” If I’m not mistaken the Liberty Bell is no longer hanging in the tower. It seems that the people who write those questions don’t even take themselves seriously.

  15. Mark says:

    I was just watching a re-run of 5th Grader, and Nancy was asked to define the prefix “aero.” She defined it correctly as “air.” However, she missed the question, as Jeff’s prompt card incorrectly read, “oxygen.”

  16. Carolina says:

    Another mistake:
    When asking how many angles there is in perpendicular lines the answer should have been 4, which is what the contestant actually responded, but instead they said there should be none!!!! so I guess they were confused with parallel lines. No double checking on the questions… mmmm I wonder how much money this writers are making, I should have that job. hehe

  17. Carolina says:

    Anita Says:
    March 4th, 2007 at 02:38
    Isn’t America archaic? The metric system just makes so much more sense!

    About the cited comment, the answer is a gigantic YES!
    I am an architect an the use of imperial system makes no sense, what-so-ever.
    (Now I feel better…)

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