“America Says” Review

Set Design- 6
Gameplay- 6
Show Flow- 6
Potential Viewer Ratings- 5
Play-Along Factor- 10
Host- 7
Overall Rating- 6.6

Premise: Two teams comprised of four contestants compete against each other to answer survey questions. In each round, both teams have 30 seconds to guess the top seven fill-in-the-blank answers. If there are any unrevealed answers remaining on the board, the opposing team has two chances to confer and attempt to guess the remaining answer(s) on the board. Each correct answer earns the team 100 points and guessing all seven answers correctly on a single turn earns the team a 1,000-point bonus. Points are doubled for the second round and tripled for the third round. The highest scoring team advances to the end game.

In the bonus round, the winning team has one minute to answer four questions and provide all of the top responses for each question. The top answer must be correctly guessed for the first question, the top two answers for the second, the top three answers for the third and the top four answers for the fourth. A team may pass on one question for a new one during the round. Guessing ten top answers correctly wins the team $15,000. Otherwise, the team walks away with a $1,000 consolation prize.

Review: Upon reading about the general description about the new show hours after the network’s annual upfront presentation unveiled its slate of new and returning programming for 2018 a couple of months ago, America Says appeared to be a knock-off Americanized version of Family Feud. After previewing the first episode last month, that is exactly what it is. There are several elements within GSN’s newest series that mimic the long-running survey game show, including a centralized survey board, pairs of teams comprised of four contestants (albeit this was only seen in the 1994 US version), the arched backdrops, the ability for opponents to steal potential points, teams going down the line to give answers and the three-round, single/double/triple front game format.

It is very difficult to create a game show nowadays – or any television show for that matter – without borrowing similar ideas and concepts from other shows. Today’s television age of reboots and revivals is essentially a temporary concession from Hollywood on how increasingly difficult it is to create completely original content. However in this case, it is possible to create a survey-based game show without completely ripping off Feud, as we have seen with Hot Potato, Pointless and Let’s Ask America.

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 5.10.07 PM.png

Although America Says is merely hastened, fill-in-the-blank version of Feud, there are few redeeming aspects that make this show worth tuning in. The fast-paced nature of the first halves of each round is a nice twist and, even without Steve Harvey providing candid and comedic commentaries to contestants’ crazy answers, the show is still engaging enough to make viewers want to play along by quickly guessing the answers.

The bonus round, which resembles the Bullseye round featured on Feud during the Combs, ’94 Dawson and O’Hurley eras, has its pros and cons. The great part about the end game is how the difficultly increasingly ramps up for questions since the scope has narrowed for winning teams to now exactly guess up to the top four answers. What irks me about this portion of the show is how upsettingly basic and random the payout structure for wins and losses. I can understand awarding $1,000 for a team winning the front game. I can’t comprehend how the producers arrived to deciding the grand prize would be $15,000. I thought it would be contingent upon how many correct answers a team would guess in the first half of the bonus and the cash at stake would be multiplied by ten in the latter half. I was wrong. It would at least make more sense to me if the top prize were set at $10,000 or $20,000 so it would look more aesthetically pleasing mathematically and the money would be better distributed than stiffing the team a penny. I don’t see a logical rhyme or reason why the top prize was set at a relatively random figure like $15,000 given the show’s structure. I’m also surprised at the lack of consolation money ($100/answer) awarded to the winning team who fell short in the end game.

Overall, America Says is simply a watered-down version of Family Feud. John Michael Higgins is a decent host for the show and does an okay job of playing off some of the bad answers given from time to time. Considering the current nature of GSN’s primetime schedule, I can see the network redundantly airing a slew of Harvey’s Family Feud following a doubleheader of the new show. America Says is not terrible, but it’s also not good enough for me to have faith in the show sticking around for more than one season. However, if you love Family Feud, you will like America Says.

Stay tuned for new episodes of America Says weekdays at 5:00pm on GSN! Screenshots taken from episodes of America Says.
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