For all the panning of bad TV I do in this blog, I must admit to a guilty pleasure of my own. Tuesdays are for Wipeout!, and I can’t get enough. Yes, the premise is immature; yes, the commentators are painstakingly tacky; yes, I feel dumb explaining and defending my viewership to anyone, but as the Hardy Boy says, it is what it is. For those unfamiliar with Wipeout!, I like to describe it as an aquatic obstacle course designed for contestants to fail. And not just fail, fail hard. Face-busting, spine-crunching, body-flipping, stomach-jerking, highly-embarrassing fails. In other words, as the viewer, you are laughing at the physical pain and misfortune of these contestants all vying for a $50,000 prize. The real genius of Wipeout! lies in its course design. The show has four stages, with each stage eliminating hopeful’s until one Wipeout! champion is crowned. The first stage consists of the most sickly sadistic contraptions imaginable. Such as this wonder, which punches people in the face and sprays them with paint while they try to traverse a small plank. Last week, they introduced a real treat. An obstacle consisting of three doors, one of which, when opened, will release a swinging hammer pendulum that knocks contestants up into the air and onto their asses. Except it isn’t one door that does this, it’s all three. If all of this is sounding incredibly dumb and juvenile to you, then I commend you on your judgment skills, because that’s exactly what it is. It is mindless television solely predicated on the universal appeal of physical humor, or rather, calculated anticipated physical humor. I know this sounds like it could get old quick, but the creativity of these obstacles really cannot be understated. Maybe this isn’t America’s greatest television achievement, and it most likely isn’t the proudest admittance for anyone who prefers to appear sophisticated and refined, but it is freaking hilarious. And once a week, I think it’s perfectly fine to put your feet up, turn your brain off, and laugh at people face-planting for the sake of entertainment.
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