Netflix has had plenty of great shows already in 2022. The likes of true crime mini-series Inventing Anna, criminally cut short chiller Archive 81 and teenage rom-com Heartstopper have been real highlights. That’s not even mentioning returning series like Bridgerton season 2 and the highly-anticipated first-half of Stranger Things season 4 later this month.
Yet, my favorite Netflix show of the year (so far) isn’t any of these. In fact, it’s a show in a genre that the streaming service has historically failed to nail: game shows. Much to my surprise, the best thing I’ve watched on Netflix in 2022 is actually Bullsh*t the Gameshow.
I’m no stranger to enjoying the odd daytime quiz show, but usually, these are best as background noise while doing something mindless, yet Bullsh*t the Gameshow managed to keep me fully engaged from the very start. It’s a wonderfully watchable trivia show that refreshes a well-worn formula to produce something genuinely special.
A quiz show for people who know nothing
Like all good game shows the core concept of Bullsh*t is simple to grasp. Contestants step up to a podium to answer multiple-choice trivia questions. If they get the right answer they move on to the next question. Each right answer is worth an increasingly larger amount of money until the final question offers the contestant the chance to win one million dollars.
I’ve basically just described Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, but where Bullsh*t gets interesting is when a contestant doesn’t know the answer. Instead of just taking a lucky stab at the correct answer, or relying on a lifeline, in Bullsh*t the contestant must try to convince a panel of three judges that they know what they’re talking about. If they manage to successfully hoodwink one of the panel members, they will progress to the next question even if the answer they gave was completely wrong.
Over the course of the show’s first 10-episode run, this setup leads to some hilariously nonsensical explanations as contestants lie through their teeth in an attempt to fool the judges. These range from someone claiming they know a Swiss New Year’s tradition because they saw it on an episode of The Amazing Race, to one consistent swearing they speak fluent French, but then mispronouncing the most commonly known word in the language: oui.
The show really does get a lot of mileage out of the remarkably silly ways that contestants confidently try to explain the reason they know the answer to obscure trivia. Playing along at home is also great fun, and I found myself quickly hooked on the opportunity to test out my own ability to sniff out bullsh*t — not to brag, but I’m pretty good at spotting fibs.
For a show about bullsh*t it's pretty wholesome
While Bullsh*t has a fun premise that elevates it above a simple trivia game, what really kept me watching was just how good-natured the whole show is. Of course, the irony of a show with a curse word in its title being so wholesome isn’t lost on me.
The show is hosted by Howie Mandel, and he does an excellent job of keeping the tone light. Plus, he has great banter with almost all the contestants. Furthermore, the featured players themselves are almost always extremely likable. In fact, there’s one very flamboyant gentleman towards the end of the series that had me in stitches to the point where I wanted Netflix to give him his own talk show!
Furthermore, even though the panel of judges tasked with sniffing out the fiction from the facts are technically in competition with the contestant in the hot seat there’s still a wonderful sense of comradery between them all.
When someone successfully gets away with a bullsh*t answer, the panel doesn’t sulk but instead congratulates them on progressing further. Much to my delight, Bullsh*t doesn’t feel meanspirited even if it is all about trash-talking.
Proof of Netflix's biggest strength
I've argued before that Netflix’s biggest strength is its variety. That's why I’m not canceling the streaming service despite my disappointment around the recent talks of Netflix ads and password crackdowns coming before the end of the year.
Bullsh*t the Gameshow is another great example of that strength. What other streaming service offers such a diverse library that covers just about every genre under the sun? Sure, Netflix has plenty of original content misfires, but it’s also got an arsenal of hits that will appeal to just about every taste.
So, if you’re looking for what to watch this weekend, or you need something light to entertain the whole family for a couple of hours, then let me strongly recommend Bullsh*t the Gameshow. And you have my word that I’m telling the truth on that one.
FYI: Netflix could be embracing new tech to tackle its subscriber slump.