Pop Culture

5 Reasons I Love The Price is Right

ALL THE HUGS! Screengrab courtesy of YouTube
When I was a kid I was prone to really bad sinus infections that were so severe I missed a lot of school. While being more snot than boy was no fun, it did give me time to watch a lot of daytime gameshows. I loved Press Your Luck and Let’s Make a Deal, but my heart belonged to The Price is Right.

I grew out of watching it once I started working during the days, and my wife was never much of a gameshow person. Over the last several years, though, I started working from home, and she got four days off a week from being a nurse, and now our routine is to open the day with watching Drew Carey, George Gray, and the rest of the cast. Nothing puts a good shine on a bad time to be in America like The Price is Right. Here’s why.

5. The Audience is the Best Audience on Television
People rave about Ellen Degeneres’ audience, and they are pretty good, but nothing beats a Price is Right audience. I did Rocky Horror for ten years and even I’ve never seen anything like it. So many people show up with custom shirts celebrating the show’s history that it’s actually weird when someone isn’t wearing one. There’s never a single look of disappointment on anyone’s face when someone else is invited to come on down. It’s a rainbow of diversity, featuring all sizes, shapes, ethnicities, sexualities, and absolutely no one cares. If the entire world ran like a Price is Right audience there wouldn’t be any war.

4. The Contestants Support Each Other
There’s a common dick move in The Price is Right where someone bids $1 over the bid of a previous bidder so that he or she can be closer to the price they think is the answer. Essentially, that means the previous bidder has to be exactly right to win (that happened the morning I’m writing this actually. It was glorious). And yet, even when this screw job occurs there’s no anger or resentment. Everyone is sent up to the stage with high fives and hugs and jumpings up and down screaming, “Oh my God.” It’s a competition where everyone is legitimately rooting for a win even if it’s not them who is winning.

3. The Cast Has Such Great Love for One Another
It’s no secret that Bob Barker was kind of a jerk. The models – then called Barker’s Beauties – had to re-up their contracts weekly, so they never knew if they were going to be out of a job. Also, several accused him of sexual harassment, but enough of Things I Didn’t Need to Tell You, You Already Kinda Knew this week.

All that went out the window when Drew Carey came on board. The models were given real jobs, and some of them have been on the show since 2003. Manuela Arbalaez, Amber Lancaster, Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, Rachel Reynolds, and James O’Halloran spend the entire show joking with Carey and Gray as equals, playing ping-pong with each other, bringing their kids to work sometimes, and on Halloween setting up an entire superhero theme show that was the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen on TV that wasn’t the Puppy Bowl.

Oh, and for the record, James is my favorite model on the show. He has such an effulgent air about every product he displays. I always imagine him going, “A smart TV! I KNOW, right? Who knew? This is awesome. You’re going to win this miracle thing and I am SO happy for you.”

2. The Hugging. Seriously, The Hugging
Hugs are super important. When babies are born, skin-to-skin contact is a vital part of the process in bonding and releasing certain hormones in the baby. Hugs release oxytocin, which counteracts depression. One of the terrible things about homophobia is how it robbed men of the simple act of touching another human being with affection.

Everyone gets a hug on The Price is Right. I’ve almost seen Carey knocked over I don’t even know how many times by overly enthusiastic contestants. Every winner immediately runs toward their prize and the model presenting it for a hug. Rachel gives the best hugs, followed by Manuela. There is just so much sincerity and honest affection happening.

1. It’s a Dream Come True
Not every prize on the show is amazing. They gave away lawn equipment the other day, and I don’t think I have ever seen bidder’s row look that disappointed. Them’s the breaks.

But most of the time every prize is a dream come true. They offer trips to far-away places, top of the line appliances, and of course YOUR BRAND NEW CAR! It’s a chance for very ordinary people to get bonked on the head with the hammer of fortune. It’s a moment when the world of privilege is opened up to people who know the retail price of mundane grocery items. It’s beautiful. It might as well be Saturnalia. The Price is Right is basically watching the façade of the American dream be real. That’s a good thing. I’ll be tuning in tomorrow.

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner