I’ve Changed My Opinion On ‘Card Sharks’ Again

CARD SHARKS - ABC's "Card Sharks" host Joel McHale. (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Recently, I wrote an article for this very website about how I had changed my mind on the classic game show Card Sharks. I had seen the game show on the Game Show Network back in the day but didn’t really enjoy it, but recently I had checked it out on BUZZR and felt differently. The episodes that aired originally from 1978 through 1981 with Jim Perry as the host were more entertaining than I remembered. I was started to flip over to it more often and giving it more views. I felt so strong that I wrote an article recanting my previous apathy/contempt for Card Sharks. Well, a few weeks later, I am having to change my tune again. Maybe Card Sharks isn’t so good after all.

If you don’t know how the show works, there are two contestants. Perry asks a question about a survey of 100 people of a certain demographic, and then one contestant guesses how many of those people answered the question in a certain way. It could be like, “We asked 100 men if they have ever lied about how much they spent on a suit. How many men said yes?” Then, the other contestant says if they think the answer is higher or lower than the first contestant’s answer. If you win, you get control of the board, and then you are shown a card. You guess if the next card will be higher or lower, if you win the round you get the game, eventually you get to the Money Cards, etc.

There is nothing wrong with the gameplay or the format. The problem, I have come to realize, is some of the contestants. Also, maybe the era when the show aired. As I watched the show more, I found myself cringing more and more at contestants and some of their answers. A lot of the questions are designed to be mildly provocative. There’s a lot of stuff about husbands and wives in there. A lot of questions about men or women. Contestants usually don’t just give answers. They explain why they are saying what they are saying. That can get so awkward. There’s a lot of broad stereotyping, and even some straight-up sexism. A lot of dudes saying things about women that get me cringing. There have been episodes where I tried to watch but the second I heard one of the contestants give a certain answer I did not want to hear another word out of their mouths. One guy gave an answer based on, and please bear in mind I am relaying something said by a person on a game show from the ‘70s, Jewish people loving money.

So yeah, I think I’m pretty much back to my original feelings about Card Sharks. I’m not a fan. You’re really rolling the dice on the contestants when you flip an episode on. The gameplay works. Jim Perry works as the host. They just needed some better casting and a little more control over the show.

About Chris Morgan

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