The best game show on the air right now isn’t Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right, or even Nailed It! It’s TruTV’s semi-satirical yet all-too-real Paid Off With Michael Torpey. The show pits millennial contestants against each other in the hopes of wracking up enough cash to pay off their student loan debt.
The show is part Family Feud, part Jeopardy, and part Battle Royale, with an undercurrent of stark financial reality stemming from the student loan crisis that has swallowed up so many young Americans. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in the first quarter of 2008, student loan debt totaled $579 billion. In the first quarter of 2018, it jumped to nearly $1.5 trillion, an increase of over 150% in just the past decade.
Torpey, the show’s host and creator, created the game show to help alleviate the crisis. Sort of. “One of the mantras is ‘an absurd show to match an absurd crisis,'” Torpey, the show’s host and creator, said in a statement via The Washington Post. “A game show feels really apt because this is the state of things right now.”
A game show is as innovative a solution to the student loan crisis as SoFi’s crowdsourcing approach.
If you think a game show is a ridiculous solution to a real problem, Torpey completely agrees. He ends each episode urging viewers to “Call your representatives right now and tell them you need a better solution than this game show.” To be honest, the strangest thing about the show is that it’s not sponsored by Sallie Mae.
Real missed opportunity there, folks!