The Vannas and the
Sex sells. No one knows why, it just does. And so this
school of thought begat an often over-looked aspect of
the game... the game show model. I thought about writing
this for two reasons: a) Gordon's busying himself with a
project that he won't tell me about, and b) in the game
show world, there are two types of models... and GSN
gave us a hint of both over the past month.
Let's consider two ends of a spectrum here. The first
end (for comparison's sake, we'll call this the Vanna
White end) are models that are used solely as eye
candy, objectified to the level of display window
mannequins. During the 1980s, "The Price is Right"
became so adept at using this type of model that in some
cases, Barker's Beauties achieved their inner zen state
actually WERE display window mannequins. Even now, the
highest form of this type has been achieved by a certain
model from Myrtle Beach who just happened to come on
down to Contestants' Row only to stay there. She lent
her name to this type (or rather, her name was borrowed
for comparison's sake).
Then there are the models that bring an aire of
personality, some grace, and a certain je ne sais quoi
to the party and in some cases are integral to the game
itself (again, for comparison's sake we'll call this the
Susan Stafford end). The Card Sharks had their dealers.
Monopoly had its dice girl, and even Susan Stafford
herself could be lumped into this group. Sure she did
the same job that Vanna White has done since 1983, but
you could hear her rooting the players on, and you could
see her casually wagging her finger when someone called
out a bad letter. They are the perennial sidekicks.
There is a third group -
the models actively participating as players in the game
- but that's another story for another day.
Though strengths can be cited with both groups of
models, they do have their weaknesses as well. Vanna-types
look cute on camera for the limited time that they're
given, but the fact remains that their job (especially
nowadays with the advent of computerized technology) is
purely ceremonial and/or could be done by anyone (prime
example: Cyber Lucy... need I say more?). Susan-types
can straddle between types for the most part, so they
tend to inherit some of these traits. But for the most
part, they're interactors. They can be seen as
cheerleaders, interceptors, middlemen, et al., but the
problem here is a tendency to overdo it. Not a model per
se, but Jimmy Kimmel as a sidekick could best illustrate
what happens when an accessory gets too wrapped up in
his or her work. Sally Julian on the early 80s "$ale of
the Century", perhaps better than that.
Going back to GSN, which now has both types of models on
active duty. Vanna-type can be seen in Adrianne Curry,
the "America's Next Top Model" winner that can be seen
(all 32 seconds of her) doling out cash and racking up
balls on "Ballbreakers". You see this with every
episode: she is intro'ed, she gets her sound byte, and
the rest of the time, we're lucky if she isn't in the
background doing something with one of the contestants
(see Celeb Episode #1). Sal could easily do this. Ewa
could easily do this. Hell, the players can do this.
She's just there along for the ride. Whether she's
actually enjoying it or not remains to be seen.
Susan-type can be seen (and heard, in folly and fancy)
in Lingo's newest computer "operator" Shandi Finnessey.
Sure she's ceremonial in the fact that game board
operators behind the scenes have been doing this sort of
thing for the first two cycles of the show, but she's an
active participant in moving the game along, cheering on
the contestants (sometimes in the fashion of Rich Fields
forgetting that his mic is still on), and playing off of
Chuck's down-home charm and wit. Thanks to her, we all
know what a "brill" is and where exactly Flourescent, MO
Which type can make a game show better? Well, that
depends on who you are and what you preference is. After
all, both women have their differences. They're trained
in different schools of showmanship, and they each
execute in different ways. It's like comparing
apple-bottoms to orange-tans. In fact, I joke around
with my colleagues here at the 'net that Shandi is the
type of girl you want to go out with, but Adrienne is
the type of girl you want to cheat on Shandi with. I
guess in the end, as long as people like them bring more
than just a pretty face to the game...
And as long as we don't have another case of Paula
running round. She was just redundant.
Are you a Vanna? Are
you a Susan? E-mail Chico Alexander with your pick at