My Childhood Is Officially Ruined.

Photo by Roman Odintsov on Pexels

Game shows are one of my favorite sub-genres of reality television. I have fond memories watching The Price Is Right with my grandma and Family Feud really made a comeback in my household when Steve Harvey became the host.

Speaking of Mr. Harvey, it’s not often that new hosts on longstanding game shows win over the audience. There’s something comforting and endearing knowing that the same host who brought a show to prominence has influenced generations of people.

Now, many of the game show greats that I welcomed into my home on a daily or weekly basis are slowly fading away.

Bob Barker

Photo by Laksge

The Price Is Right (TPIR) was my favorite game show as a kid. Maybe it was because it was one of the few that I actually had access to pre-cable (not including Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, but we’ll get to those in a minute.)

Bob Barker began hosting the reincarnated version of the show in 1972 (the original came out in 1956 but was formatted much differently than how we know it today) and continued to host until 2007. Drew Carey took over as host shortly after my 12th birthday, and he still hosts TPIR today.

The last episode I remember seeing Barker on was when he appeared to celebrate his 90th birthday in 2013. My heart was so full seeing him back in his element. He’s still living, and will be turning 100 this December. Edit August 29: Bob Barker passed away this month at the age of 99.

Alex Trebek

Photo by Geekykool

When I found out the long-standing host of Jeopardy had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019, I was devastated. If there was anyone who fully embodied what the iconic quiz show represents, it was George Alexander Trebek.

He started hosting the syndicated version of the show in 1984, and remained in the role until his death in 2020. He also guest starred in several movies and TV shows, including The Nanny (which I’ve recently watched for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised by his appearance.)

As a trivia buff, I have a deep appreciation for this show. When I was younger, my dad and I would bond over who could answer the fastest. Much of the random pieces of knowledge I possess come from Jeopardy clues. Trebek even taught me how to correctly pronounce certain words.

I recently watched a documentary that takes a look at the show behind the scenes. It’s so interesting to see the thought put into production, and to get to know what Trebek was up to when he wasn’t hosting.

Pat Sajak

Photo by Charles LeBlanc

Okay, this one hurt. Pat Sajak is the most recent game show heavyweight from my childhood who has announced his retirement.

One half of the indestructible hour time block alongside Jeopardy each weeknight, Wheel of Fortune requires a different type of skill than it’s brainy counterpart (not to mention good luck at the wheel.)

Connor Higgins does an outstanding job of exploring Sajak’s life and career, including his long running stint as the witty and charming host we all know and love. I learned a lot about his background, including the fact that he had a late night talk show! Spoiler alert: it was nothing to write home about, but I’m here for the 80s aesthetics.

In conclusion…

Why do I care so much about this? They’re just game shows, you may be saying. But that’s the thing: they’re not just game shows.

Whether you consider yourself to be a fan of the genre or not, I’d bet you have at least heard of all of these hosts and the shows they are associated with. The reach that these entities have had over the years is mind boggling.

They play in doctor’s offices and pop up while you’re flipping channels. They’re one of the rare types of shows currently airing that you can watch with the entire family. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a funny contestant moment on YouTube or TikTok. I personally play all three of these games via their mobile app versions. They are ubiquitous and timeless.

Can you believe there exists an entire generation of people who weren’t even alive when Bob Barker was the host of TPIR? My chest hurts at the thought.

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