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Game Shows & Female Hosts

Marion Charatan

Posted on March 19, 2022 21:54

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Producers cast very few women as game show hosts.

Game shows are popular. The genre has been around since the late 1930s and the concept is basic--contestants compete for a prize. They are pitted against each other or answer a question themself.  

The first television and radio game shows premiered in 1938. Spelling Bee was a 15-minute production that aired on radio and TV in the U.K. It was hosted by Freddie Grisewood and ran for only four months. Dr. I.Q. came out in 1939 in the US. It was on both TV and radio. Contestants won silver dollars for answering questions correctly. The original version starred singer Lew Valentine. Game show icon Tom Kennedy hosted the program from 1958 to 1959. 

Truth or Consequences premiered in 1950, first on radio and hosted by Ralph Edwards. It developed into a popular television version, notably hosted by game show king Bob Barker from 1956 to 1975. Barker went on to host The Price is Right, where you 'Come on Down' for prizes that can include luxurious cars. Comedian Drew Carey replaced Barker in 2007 and is having a very successful run.

Popular game shows currently on the air with heavy viewership include Jeopardy, with Ken Jennings and actress Mayim Bialik, who replace late icon Alex Trebek, Wheel of Fortune, hosted by the venerable Pat Sajak and Vanna White, and Family Feud with the talented Steve Harvey.

Bialik is the first female host ever selected for Jeopardy, but she still shares the duties with Jennings. I believe networks are still not completely sold on having women host game shows--and I think that is likely why ABC alternates Bialik with Jennings, despite her busy schedule as an actor.

There are considerably fewer females than males hosting game shows. Why is this?

The late Betty White was a ground breaker. She was one of the first women to host Just Men (ironic, eh?) in 1983 and won an Emmy for it. White's late husband Allen Ludden hosted Password. The former 'Golden Girl' was called the 'Queen of Game Shows' because she loved to compete as a celebrity contestant on Password, To Tell the Truth and What's My Line

Meredith Viera traded in her long-term news anchor job on The Today Show to host one of my personal favorites 25 Words or Less. Contestants have to guess words with clues, kind of a twist on Password. Game shows currently featuring female hosts include Press Your Luck with Elizabeth Banks, The Chase with Sarah Haines, and Big Brother with Julie Chen.

Producers do not believe that women can achieve the same ratings as male hosts get. Part of the reason for this is they haven't been given the same opportunities. In my opinion, females hosting game shows remains an untapped market. It seems antiquated that programmers won't typically cast women in these roles. A strong host should garner ratings, irrespective of gender. Come on, it's 2022. Let the best man, or woman, win!

Marion Charatan

Posted on March 19, 2022 21:54

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Source: USA TODAY
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