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The Most Bizarre Game Shows Ever Made by the Late Chuck Barris

March 22, 2017

Here at the BRI we love game shows and classic TV, so we were saddened to hear about the death of game show creator, producer, and host Chuck Barris. Here’s a look at some of the lesser-known creations of the unique personality behind The Gong Show, The Newlywed Game, and The Dating Game.

The $1.98 Beauty Show (1978-80)
Hosted by Rip Taylor (the performer best known for showing up on talk and variety shows to laugh and throw confetti everywhere), this game show was a parody of beauty contests like the Miss America pageant. In each episode, six contestants (which occasionally featured men dressed as women) did the usual beauty pageant stuff, such as parade around in swimsuits and perform their weird talents, all while celebrity panelists like Jamie Farr and Steve Garvey would make fun of them. The winner of each episode received a plastic crown, a bouquet of rotten vegetables, and a cash prize of $1.98, delivered in coins.

How’s Your Mother-in-Law? (1967-68)
In this combination of courtroom show, courtroom show parody, and game show, three real-life mothers-in-law were put on trial (offered up by their unhappy sons-in-law), defended by a standup comedian, such as George Carlin or Nipsey Russell. The comedian would then defend why the mother-in-law acted so poorly on some occasion or another. Then a jury of unmarried people would vote on which of the three mothers-in-law they wouldn’t mind having be a part of their family. The jury’s pick won $100.

Three’s a Crowd (1979-80)
Each contestant team consisted of three players: a man, his wife, and his secretary. Then the wife and secretary answered questions about the man literally in the middle to see who knew more. Three’s a Crowd upset both conservative groups (they thought the show heavily implied that the male contestants were cheating on their wives with their secretaries) and feminist groups (who thought the show was dated and sexist). After advertisers pulled out and local affiliates took the show off the air, Three’s a Crowd was canceled early in 1980.

Bamboozle (1986)
First, one contestant told an interesting, if long-winded story from their lives. Then the next contestant told…the exact same story. The third contestant? That’s right—the same yarn. It was up to a panel to figure out which person was telling the truth, and which other two were lying. In other words, this unsuccessful TV pilot that Barris produced was like the TV classic game show To Tell the Truth, but with stories instead of jobs or characteristics.

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