men vs. women in a "battle of the sexes"! Women or men: which is...
THE BETTER SEX
AIR DATES: July 18, 1977 to January 12, 1978
CREATOR: Goodson/Todman Productions
HOST: Bill Anderson & Saragh Purcell
WATCH IT AT: youtu.be/aOf1j56q8es (Finale - Part 1)
"Fandango" first appeared on The Nashville Network (before the WWE
changed it to Spike) and just a year or two before "Real People" started
a trend of similar "human interest" shows, the hosts of those two shows
set out to settle an age-old question: which gender could outsmart (and
outbluff) the other when it's six-on-six? Yeah, the "Battle of the
Sexes" has been a thing even before Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs had
their tennis spat. But that and the growing popularity of the "Equal
Rights Amendment" in the 70s made it an even bigger to-do during that
decade. Mark Goodson and Bill Todman jumped on the opportunity and
created a show where it was only men versus only women. Looking back, I
think that if this was the best TV could do to illustrate men vs. women
then I certainly hope we've improved our stance over the last four
decades. (And considering a woman is a Presidential nominee, I'd say we
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
Two teams of six play. The returning champs start at the "question
podium" with a contestant who is asked a question (either general
knowledge or survey). The host (the one that's the same gender as the contestant)
then hands them a card with the correct answer and a bluff answer. The
contestant gives one of the answers. The other team then has to decide
if the answer given is correct or incorrect. The other host goes down
the line asking the team members to give their opinions. When two
members agree, the correct answer is given. If the team members are
wrong, they are eliminated from the round. If they are right, the one
giving the answer is eliminated, along with another one chosen by the
other team. Whoever was right would be asked the next question.
If a team is down to two
and they disagree on whether the answer is right or wrong, the second
member tries to convince the first one that they are right...but the
first member would always have the last word.
The first team to
eliminate all members of the other team won the round and $1000 to split
and advanced to the bonus game. A team could stay until they lost twice.
The winning team now faced thirty audience members of the opposite
the same gameplay. One-by-one, the team members would be asked a
question and then given a card with ONLY the right answer on it. The
member could either give the right answer or come up with a bluff on
their own. The audience members used paddle-like devices to vote whether
they thought the contestant is right or wrong. After the correct answer
is given, those who guessed incorrectly were eliminated and sat down.
The object was for the team to eliminate all thirty audience members. If
they did that by the time every team member has been asked a question,
the team would split $5000. However, if any audience member remained
standing after all six team members were asked, those audience members
would split $500.
It was obvious that this HAD to be hosted by two, one male and one
female. I mean, it'd be a conflict of interest otherwise, right? And
it's obvious this is where Sarah Purcell honed her skills that served
her on "Real People" for five years. And Bill Anderson? Well, for a
then-40-something country singer, he did the best he could. Certainly
better than Jon "Bowser" Bowman did in the relative trainwreck that was
"Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour".
While the whole
"explaining your answer" thing that started on "Card Sharks" wasn't all
that great to me, I can understand it in this format. After all, you're
not only trying to convince the host and the opponents that you're right
but, more importantly, your teammates. You were giving your own opinion
but you were letting your TEAM know the reasoning. After all, this WAS
team vs. team, not just 1 man vs. 6 women/1 woman vs. 6 men.
The music was quite
upbeat, as you'd half-expect music in a late-70s game show to be. It was
quite disco-like, but I did like the male and female "doo-be-do-wop"ping
during the introduction. Also, the men and women running onto the set
like football teams at the start was a nice touch.
And, of course, bonus
points for having the gall to include the word "SEX" in the very title.
As a grade-schooler, I had no idea what the word meant. Thankfully,
because of the show, I figured out it meant "gender" and not...well, the
OTHER definition. I saved my mom some embarrassment (that is until,
after watching "The Newlywed Game", I asked her what "making whoopie"
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
I think it
would've worked with less players. Maybe four or five apiece. And while
it was fair to KO another member as well as the "answer giver", that
seemed a bit UNfair to the one KOed. After all, that person had nothing
to do with the giver being unable to get the other team to get it wrong;
s/he was just a victim of circumstance.
I also would've gone with
two-out-of-three rounds before going to the bonus round. Playing a bonus
round and then seeing the team you just beat back at it again...I dunno,
it just seems wrong. A foe vanquished should STAY vanquished...at least
in the world of game shows. Lone exception would be "Bullseye" who would
allow a challenger who didn't even get to answer a question to play
again. But, if you lose a game show, you should just take your parting
gifts and skeedaddle.
In the end, though, this
show never really answered the question of who is the "better sex". All
it showed was that a certain group of one gender could outwit a certain
group of another gender...until a DIFFERENT group came along. For a show
that seemed to be trying to prove a point, they didn't do it that well.
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
Funnily enough, I
actually CAN see this working as a show on GSN. And these days, the
questions CAN be a bit more racy. They may even want to go the route ot
the "Battle of the Sexes" party game and ask men questions women would
know and vice versa. Have it be new three-on-three teams like the first
revival of "Chain Reaction" each show, have only ONE member KOed each
question (and, if the "giver" outwits the other team, they get to choose
which one fooled gets KOed), best two-of-three rounds and give the
winning team two questions each to give to the audience in the bonus
round. Until women are paid equally for the same job, the "battle of the
sexes" will continue, PC or not. Why not capitalize on it?
NEXT TIME: One
potato, two potato, three potato, Bill...
Chris Wolvie is of one sex...though he doubts he's better than EITHER
of them. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.