Short-lived Children’s Game Shows

Alex McElroy

Alex McElroy

Is Santa Real?
Description: Contestant (≤ 9 years old) walks from wings to the center of unlit stage. Spotlight shines on contestant. Disembodied voice asks, “Is Santa Real?” If contestant answers, “No,” they are cane-hooked off the stage and given a cigarette. If contestant answers “Yes,” trapdoor beneath contestant opens and contestant plummets to an undisclosed location.

The Quiet Game: The Game
Description: Contestants brought on stage and asked to remain quiet as various distractions, ranging from puppies to flatulent grandparents, are placed in front of them. Contestant who remains quiet longest wins. Winning contestant returns for subsequent episodes until defeated. Show wildly popular for three months but cancelled after the “Billy America Scandal,” when producers discovered that contestant “Billy America,” winner of 48 consecutive challenges, was in actuality a mannequin.

Description: This reality-based game show follows contestants in their homes as they perform tasks such as pet feeding and dish-rinsing. Prizes include biweekly fiscal advances, Xbox 360s, sleepover approval, and “a roof over your goddamn head, that’s what.”

Debatin’ with Chomsky
Description: Variation of “Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader.” Show deemed, “too difficult” and “unzany” shortly after its Ethical Ramifications of Unmanned Drone Strikes week. Only one contestant, then child-star Abigail Breslin, of Little Miss Sunshine fame, successfully defeated Mr. Chomsky during the show’s two-month run. The legitimacy of her victory has been disputed by Mr. Chomsky, who contends that questions like, “Isn’t Noam Old?” and “What’s Alan Arkin like?” unabashedly favored Breslin.

Lift This Fridge
Description: Two contestants dropped off at abandoned junkyard. They are given one hour to carry as many full-size refrigerators as they can from the far side of the junkyard to its front entrance, using only the aid of a back brace and moxie. Losing contestant carries winning contestant home.

Description: Currently under investigation by the Maricopa County Police Department.

Meet Your Real Dad!
Description: Contestants removed from school midday and delivered to local playground, where host Maury Povich introduces contestant to a quite often scruffy, bewildered-looking man in torn coveralls. This man is their real father. Contestants are given stack of paper on which is compiled arbitrary graphs and percentages. Contestants are told these are the results of a paternity test and instructed by Mr. Povich to “See for yourself.” Contestants are given no guidance whatsoever for interpreting test results. All contestants who appeared on Meet Your Real Dad! received two complimentary counseling sessions and a Watermelon Blow Pop.

Hat or Boat?
Description: Contestants view blurred, macro photographic images of either hat or boat. Contestants decide whether image is hat or boat. If contestant guesses correctly, they view additional image, and so on, until they guess incorrectly. No prizes. Show cancelled midway through the second week when producers discovered that 7% of all images are neither hat nor boat, but photos of cameraman Christopher Snelton’s genitals.


Alex McElroy’s fiction appears or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Tin House Flash Fridays, Booth, Pinball, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Arizona, where he is at work on adopting a cat.


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