THIS…is not American Idol. It’s Million Second Quiz — NBC’s latest game show hosted by New King of Media, Ryan Seacrest. Nicknamed MSQ, not to be confused with MSG which my poor eyes in need of a check-up kept seeing instead, the eleven-and-half-day game show event boasts the highest winnings of any game show of all time.
(Side note: this react is taking twice as long as it normally would because I keep typing Million Dollar Quiz before realizing my mistake, deleting Dollar and re-typing Second. The world would be a simple place if it was Million Dollar Quiz — but then the show would be Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?)
Contestants win money, $10 per second, by correctly answering multiple choice questions while sitting on the Money Chair. (Yes, that’s the most creative name they could come up with for a chair in which you can earn money.) The participants in the game are chosen through various means from lining up outside the game’s headquarters in Hell’s Kitchen and passing placement rounds to playing on the MSQ app and being selected to fly into New York City to play. It’s a confusing process that shows a bit too much of the producer influence that is often cleverly hidden in other game shows, but you have to admit — at least the giant hourglass set is pretty cool.
The best time to be in the Money Chair is, of course, when Ryan Seacrest wastes time asking innocuous questions as you can accrue $10 per second. Brandon Saunders, NYU computer science and mathematics students from Queens, NY, certainly learned this pro tip firsthand as he comfortably stayed seated throughout Million Second Quiz‘s entire first live television broadcast. Another pro tip: Don’t double back a Doubler (bet four times the point amount that the opposing contestant does not know the answer to the question) to a computer science and mathematics student on a math-related question.
But it’s Winner’s Row that looks really interesting. The top four earners live, eat, and sleep in “Winner’s Row,” which sounds like Victor’s Village from The Hunger Games but looks more like a four-person prison cell designed by Yotel. Carolyn Bergier, the lowest ranking Winner’s Row contestant, provides a glimpse into life on the Row before she’s eventually bumped from the top four by Brandon. She confesses, “You don’t know when food’s gonna come. You don’t know when the opportunity to stay clean is gonna come. I was hounding them, ‘Please let me shower. Please let me shower.’” Oh my, Winner’s Row sounds more like Survivor set on an actual TV set. I know the show is meant to be a “challenge of trivia and endurance,” but that doesn’t mean it needs to be like Endurance.
The intensity and underlying fear that comes along with this show would be better experienced if it were hosted by someone like Anne Robinson of The Weakest Link. If the show’s premise is a little horrifying, then why not play into that? (It is almost Halloween, after all.) I don’t mind Seacrest, but I can’t ever take him seriously even after all these years because of things like this and this.
Will this be the next Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Or is it doomed to be the next Amne$ia? (You don’t need to suffer from amnesia to not remember Amne$ia.) I guess we’ll have to keep watching — and playing — to find out. I just hope they feed the contestants in the Winner’s Row soon. Maybe they need sponsors from the Capitol to fly it in on silver parachutes for them. Citizens of Panem, I urge you to feed the Winner’s Row! Winner’s Row, may the odds be ever in your favor.
What do you think, PopWatchers? Are you playing along with MSQ?