The entire experience of watching “Are you smarter than a 5th Grader?” was one of those moments where my anger bubbled over, and blogging became the only way of getting rid of the excess frustration over this particular television program. The show is operating on a principle that no, viewers aren’t actually smarter than 5th graders, because if they’re expecting me to not wretch watching this program they’re underestimating my intelligence.
It’s not the questions that are the problem, although to be entirely honest with you I refuse to believe that some of these questions are actually taught in grade school. And, I kind of love that it’s only a half hour long, which is pretty much the best possible length for something like this. The premise of the show really isn’t a problem either, considering that it’s always fun to compare adults to children. However, you see, they’re not your everyday children.
I read a piece while experimenting with Digg earlier today where it was revealed that the casting process for the 5th Graders was decided based, primarily, on whether or not they held a SAG card. Then, if they weren’t actually smart, they would help them through a quiz ahead of time in order to prep them for the show itself. I approached this with some skepticism, especially since I had not really read up on the show much, but they couldn’t possibly have done this…could they?
Well, while I have no official confirmation, if those kids weren’t actors I’m dumber than every fifth grader in North America. One by one they played to the crowd, laughed at each other’s answers as if they were schoolyard chums, and each in turn knew the answer to every single question. Luke, a pretentious little bugger who finished out the half hour, was the worst offender: terrible little laughs, smug looks and a sense that he was the fifth grader sent from heaven.
Now, I’m not too worried about the “real” kids who got lost along the way in the audition process, and let’s face it: the show isn’t exactly high-concept, so it doesn’t really affect its legitimacy. However, it just doesn’t make for good television; in fact, it was purely grating. While the general quiz show formula works, it doesn’t when the kids are so damn smug, so “perfect,” that there’s no real reason to watch. Are we watching to see people humiliated, or are we watching to see people succeed?
The line is so unclear, so grey, that I think it ruins any of its appeal. These kids are pure actors, and it’s almost like they’re in on the joke. If they were real kids, at least they wouldn’t be so energetic and high-fivey, which I think is perhaps the most frustrating part of the entire experience. I should really be able to let it go, it’s just another trashy game show, but the whole thing was just so absolutely asinine that I must rant about it. For the love of all things good, stay away from this when the 2nd part airs tomorrow night.