You know that dystopia in which income inequality is so extreme that society invents a game show that forces the less wealthy people to fight one other for survival?
Nope, not The Hunger Games. We’re talking about good, old, real-life America in 2018. You know, where unchecked capitalist greed has rendered higher education simultaneously unaffordable and a prerequisite to landing a decent job — leaving 44 million citizens in debt that toals over $1.3 trillion, according to The Washington Post.
Jennifer Lawrence won’t be able to save us from this waking nightmare though.
TruTV airs the first episode of Paid Off on Tuesday, July 10. In the new game show, three contestants with student debt battle each other in Jeopardy-style, college-oriented trivia. What do they win? Glad you asked!
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the show will pay off a portion of the winner’s debt, with the amount determined by how well they do. But the real prize is temporary freedom from the hellish labyrinth of our financial system, where the 1% prey upon the rest of society for still believing in the myth of the American dream!
To add insult to injury, the host of the game show, actor Michael Torpey, gave an interview to the Washington Post trying to spin the show as an appropriate antidote to this financial epidemic ruining millions of lives.
“One of the mantras is ‘an absurd show to match an absurd crisis,'” he said. “A game show feels really apt, because this is the state of things right now.”
Ah yes, this is what the people need: their desperation televised for the profit of TV executives.
To be fair, Torpey said he hopes the show will provide a healthy dose of reality to go along with its farce. It will feature segments like “super-depressing fact of the week” and trivia questions that invite criticism of America’s dire financial state.
Senior vice president of development and original programming at TruTV Lesley Goldman said, “We’re a comedy channel first and foremost. But we fell in love with this idea because of the unique hook of a game show taking the bite out of a student debt crisis. It seemed so incredibly innovative, relatable, and timely.”
Hunger Games isn’t the only dystopian comparison to be drawn here, either. In 1984, the book by George Orwell that’s enjoying a resurgence in relevancy due to Trump‘s Doublespeak, also used game shows as a way to control the masses by keeping them complacent and distracted.
The weekly lottery in the books was described as the only hope for the “proles” (or working class): “their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant.” In reality, winners and prizes were made-up by the government as propaganda.
There might truly be some sincere intentions behind Paid Off‘s promise to be the “only game show working to end the student debt crisis.” Still, call me old fashioned — but isn’t that, like, the government’s job?
I guess the best we can do is hope that the odds be ever in your favor!