Baldwin has the confused bearing of a buzzed uncle at a fractious family soirée — one minute he’s calling for order, the next he’s more out of hand than anyone. “I told you to rub my hair for good luck,” he says to a male contestant. “That was a typo. You’re supposed to rub my balls.”
The laughs on the old Match Game came from the contestants’ and panelists’ fill-in-the-blank responses to writers’-room setups like “Sally the Girl Scout lost her _____ in a pup tent.” Glenda, a '75 contestant, answered that
Nobody’s writing “innocence” on the new Match Game. Nobody’s stirring up much tension, either. The contestants still win points for matching the answers of six celebrity panelists, but when the host establishes that rub my balls is the baseline, there’s little point to answering “cookies.” In the fourth episode, a young woman named Colleen is given this freebie: “Dumb Dora is so dumb that once a month she goes to the carwash to have her _____ waxed.” As the funky Match Game theme plods along and the stars pen their answers, Leslie Jones, the funniest of the panelists so far, gets into a scrap with Leah Remini about whether or not Colleen would pick the dirty answer. (“Colleen’s nice!” Remini shouts.)
When she gets to speak for herself, Colleen does so with pride: “Her vagina!”
That answer almost runs the board. Only wrongheaded gentleman Josh Charles gets it wrong, telling Colleen that he had tried to guess what “a nice Irish girl” would say. His answer: “legs.”
The ramshackle new Match Game will be a shock to the handful of Americans unaware that in 2016 nice Irish girls do not fear the word “vagina.” It has little of the frisky, liberated joy of Snatch Game, the crisply edited occasional segment on RuPaul's Drag Race, or of the campy taboo-flouting that gay celebrities like Reilly or Paul Lynde dared on the '70s version and Hollywood Squares. The most daring thing on it, so far: One contestant won big by guessing that the right verb to drop into a line about Donald Trump was "lie." In a cheering display of American unity, the panelists,
Mostly, the best it offers is TV stars, loosened up by cocktails, trying to work out how to play a game that doesn’t quite deserve to be called one. (Only Jones and Rosie O’Donnell seem fully up to speed.) Maybe Match Activity would be a better title. The Family Feud–like final round, entailing basic word association, is a jokeless snooze, and the contestant who gets there will always be the one who lucked into a blank fillable with “penis” or “vagina.”
If Baldwin is a drunk uncle, Harvey commands the Family Feud set like a judge in a courtroom. You know not to fuck with him. Harvey’s presence is mighty, but his authority doesn’t just come from within. He conducts the Feud as if the weight of family-time broadcasting itself were bearing down on
Few things on TV are as funny as when Harvey stops the show dead, shaken to the core by what humanity has become. But even fewer funny things on TV are as disingenuous: The grandmother who dismays Harvey by shouting “flatulence!” has been set up by the show to do just that. Harvey's gag is deeply conservative — he pretends to live in an America that answers “legs” rather than “vagina.”
On ABC's Celebrity Family Feud, Harvey treats the families of Sugar Ray Leonard or the Band Perry as he does anyone else brought before him, on the regular show, to guess the top-ranked responses to dumb opinion surveys. But there
The second: The producers will do whatever it takes to guarantee that Harvey gets to chew someone out.
Unlike Match Game, the Feud is a game, and Snoop is justified in looking proud to make it to the "Fast Money" bonus round. There, he has to offer quick responses to five easy questions, with points awarded for selecting the answers chosen by a survey. Snoop aces most of these, but he flubs the fourth, "Pie in the _____."
"Horse," Snoop says.
Harvey sounds shaken, for a breath. But this is a speed round, and the clock's ticking, so he can't say anything now. Then, afterward, when it's time to score Snoop's answers against the survey, Harvey notes that Snoop might hit the 200 points required for victory before Harvey even gets to "horse" — meaning the game will end before Harvey can dress Snoop down. “Sure hope we get down to that one,” Harvey says, “because I don't know what the hell you said.”
The drama isn't whether Snoop will win — it's whether Harvey will get the chance to go off.
And then, wouldn't you know it, the points after Snoop's first three answers total up to exactly 199. The crowd claps in anticipation. "Sometimes God hears and answers prayers," Harvey exults, probably meaning "the producers and scorekeepers."
Snoop hunkers down to his
Harvey storms away to stand beneath the Feud scoreboard.
He barks: “Pie in the what?”
“Horse” appears on the board. Snoop is laughing so hard he holds his hand on his
Zero. The audience roars. Snoop beams and laughs and looks like being upbraided by Steve Harvey is the highest honor life has ever paid him.
“Horse” was the fourth Fast Money question. On the fifth — “name a color in a traffic light” – Snoop scores more than enough points to win some money for his Snoop Youth Football charity.
Celebrity Family Feud, like regular Family Feud, is brisk, tense, dumb, disingenuous and a cheat. It's also, in its best clips, so funny that I don't care. Harvey understands what should always be the first rule of game-show hosting: He's committed to making sure you don't regret your life choices.