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DID YOU READ

10 weird old game shows

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When the mood strikes, there’s little that’s more amusing than watching some weird, old game shows. They were crucial in the early days of television, and things were very different back then. These days, the line between game shows and “reality” television is very much blurred, as evidenced by Jackass star Steve-O’s current crazy show “Killer Karaoke,” where people have to sing songs while being attacked by dogs and snakes and other such tribulations. Stuff like that is edgy on purpose, but there is a long history of building a competition around anything and seeing if it sticks, and that makes for some accidental oddness. In other cases, it’s just letting drunk celebrities screw around a lot and constantly fling double entendres, which makes for its own sort of strangeness. Then there are just some things you can’t believe ever happened at all. So let’s take a look at some weird, old game shows – and in the interest of fairness, we’re going to leave out all those brain-breaking Japanese torture contests this time around.


1. “Queen for a Day”

This is one of the earliest ones, having originated as a radio show in 1945, and came to TV in 1956 for an 8-year run. Why is it weird? Because it’s kind of morbid. Essentially, a bevy of contestants had to compete for prizes, and the winner was the one with the worst life. True, it’s kind of a nice karmic thing to award washing machines to people with crap luck, but it’s also essentially nationally-televised rubbernecking.


2. “You Bet Your Life”

This one is odd because there was barely a game involved at all. There was the occasional quizzing of contestants and some secret word skullduggery, but it was really just an excuse for the legendary Groucho Marx to amusingly chat people up – and you really don’t need much more than that for some solid entertainment. (In a similar vein, “Who Do You Trust?” gave a young Johnny Carson the same sort of leeway, as he spent more time interviewing the competing couples than he did actually playing the game.) Game shows often featured celebrities pre-fame, and here you can see Groucho bouncing off of sci-fi author Ray Bradbury.


3. “Front Page Challenge”

Did you ever in your life think that you’d ever see Malcolm X on a game show? Neither did I, but this classic Canadian program managed the feat only a few months before his tragic assassination. To be fair, this was a much newsier sort of show, with notable journalists asking questions of a newsmaker they couldn’t see to try and identify what current events they were involved in. After the game portion, it became essentially an episode of “Meet The Press.”


4. “Let’s Make a Deal”

Here’s a show that began quite normally with host Monty Hall daring contestants to trade away things they already won for the chance at something better or some kind of “zonk.” However, it got weird because the audience glommed onto the notion that said contestants were selected on Monty’s whim, and thus started dressing up in crazier and crazier costumes in the hopes of getting chosen. You’ll see that madness on display in this clip. Note the guy in the stork outfit.


5. “The Match Game”

Just because it’s not obscure doesn’t mean it ain’t weird. One of the most popular game shows of its day started out stiff, but once the ‘70s hit, it was just an excuse for a pack of random pseudo-celebrities to get bawdy and drunk. They had to be drunk, right? Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Richard Dawson, Nipsey Russell, Rip Taylor, Dick Martin, Betty White, Marcia Wallace, Fannie Flagg and lecherous host Gene Rayburn and his super-skinny microphone had an often-raucous time filling in the blanks with wacky double entendres about old men who *blank* ten times a day, or how Johnny put butter on his *blank.* That is, when they bothered to actually play the game.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…