What’s up fiery food fans? If you’ve spent any time on this site at all, you probably know that I’m a fan of the Hot Ones YouTube show but, as of this week, the brand are branching out.
Hot Ones the Game Show just dropped yesterday – A variation on the formula where, instead of interviewing celebrity guests over a shared meal of lightly-sauced (yet still very hot) wings, Sean Evans asks trivia questions of the general american public, while they suffer from something far more thoroughly drenched.
So, today, I want to take some time to look at that formula and give my thoughts on what it does right, what it does wrong and what it’s likely to mean for the future of the show that I love.
Well, to start with, they’ve nailed the look. They’ve upped the production value on their logo immensely but it’s still the same fake-neon diner sign design that it’s always been, just rendered in high quality 3D at last.
And the set? It’s nothing special but its lighting – All done in an intense blend of reds and yellows – just screams “HOT!” at the viewer. Even in stills:
But that’s all superficial stuff.
Obviously, if you’re making or watching a show, you want it to look good. It only adds to the enjoyment. But that’s just it – It only adds to it. If the actual content sucks, no amount of visual polish is going to make a show work.
So, what does this new game show bring to the table? How high are the stakes? How dramatic are the reactions? And, for fans of the original YouTube show, is this more of Sean Evans being Sean Evans or is he simply selling out to Warner?
I tell you what, have a look at this wing:
That’s some seriously sauced-up chicken right there and it’s not mild sauce. The very first wing is a reaper and bonnet blend, this time around, with very little in it but the peppers. The reactions to it are huge and they’re definitely not staged.
Overdramatic as the show may be, the contestants are genuinely suffering and genuinely don’t want to eat wings two and three. Which is where all of the tension in Hot Ones the Game Show comes from.
Unfortunately, though, wing eating isn’t tied to performance. Players have to eat the wings to continue – And Sean will press them on that, to an almost malicious degree – but they don’t have to do well at the questions to survive the wings.
The only benefit to answering questions correctly seems to be monetary and money can be earned just as easily from opponent’s failures as your own successes. Plus, it doesn’t look like your banked total even matters if you win in the final play off.
It may just be that I’m not a game show guy but I don’t feel like there’s any reason for me to get invested in the questions. And, aside from the “mouthing off” round, where contestants guess celebrities from pictures of their lips, none of the questions are anything unique or interesting. They’re just general knowledge.
For a regular game show, that would be fine. It has its gimmick with the chicken, so you could argue that it stands out enough.
For Hot Ones, though, we’ve come to expect something different. We’ve spent years watching a very human experience, in which Sean asks clever, humorous and/or insightful questions of his guests. In which it’s almost like he’s simply conversing with them over a shared meal.
Coming off the back of that, Sean’s questions here are a massive let down. They’re boring, they tell us nothing about the people and they don’t give him a chance to converse.
He’s an alright host but he’s not a great one, like usual, because he doesn’t get to do what he does best. And, when he’s not bonding with the guests by eating alongside them, the Hot Ones formula feels cruel.
It is that formula, though, not Sean, that’s at fault here. Our host is still very much himself and, in my opinion, this show just isn’t as kind to him as his previous one.
So no, I’m not the biggest fan of Hot Ones the Game Show but it’s not like we’re losing the Hot Ones that we know and love. And, given that the latest season of YouTube interviews and this new game show were filmed side by side, it’s pretty clear that there won’t be any noticeable drop in quality.
If anything, now that the original Hot Ones is airing alongside the game show on actual TV, we might start to see an increase in post-production quality. In edits, inserted graphics, the logo and any licensed content that they might not have been able to grab before.
At most, if people share my opinion of the show, it might deal a small blow to the brand’s image. I can’t see it being anything larger, though. It’s not offensive in any way and it isn’t dire.
It’s really just another mediocre game show.
One which I’d rate
because it has a tad more censorship, for TV, than its YouTube counterpart.