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Jimmy Kimmel’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Reboot Asks People to Play at Home Via An App
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Byproducts of quarantine: I’m doing P90X workout videos, of all things, to stay healthy, drinking much, much, more, and, like the rest of the country, I’m watching network television again. Since we locked ourselves inside, several primetime network reality shows have seen as much of a 40 percent jump in ratings. Suddenly, with American Idol and Survivor in full swing, it’s almost as if we’re living in 2002 again. (Billboard’s number one song that year? Wait for it… “How You Remind Me.”)
Now, we have one more network legend making its triumphant return: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? This Wednesday night, on ABC, Jimmy Kimmel will host a reboot of the early-2000s game-show fixture, over two decades after it first debuted on the network. Instead of average-Joe contestants, celebrities like Will Forte and Eric Stonestreet will battle it out for charity, for what will be the first time the show has been on primetime television since 2009. Plus, you can download an app to play along, with the potential to win a portion of the prize pot—which sounds perfect for our new, bar trivia-less world.
If you haven’t watched the original, Regis Philbin-hosted show, played the dozens of video games based on it, or watched the Oscar-nominated film the show inspired, Slumdog Millionaire, here’s the original format. It’s pretty simple: One contestant sits across from the host and attempts to correctly answer 15 multiple-choice questions. As the questions go on, they become increasingly difficult—though you get more money the whole way, leading up to a literal million-dollar question. You can opt out at any time, taking the prize from whatever dollar tier you’re at, or keep trudging through and risk losing it all.
Though, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire didn’t rack up roughly 30 million viewers per episode by being a glorified SAT test. Players had “lifelines” along the way, in case they needed help: 50:50 (eliminates two answers), Ask the Audience (polls the in-studio viewers), and Phone-a-Friend (where you could call up a brainy buddy for help). At one point, even the names of lifelines, and the verbiage of the show became etched deep in our culture, so much that “Is that your final answer?” that it was quoted with roughly the same frequency as “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
Sure, the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted reboot won’t be the same show that once gave a rando over $2 million dollars—see: the celebrity contestants, a new lifeline or two, no Regis—but we can all get behind a game of trivia, right? It’s something you can bicker about with whomever your quarantine buddy is, maybe even try to wake up a few brain cells that have withered away during this whole thing. I’m sure it beats watching Young Sheldon, at least.
So, from now on, every Wednesday night, you can find me on my couch, phone in hand, racking my kindergarten-level understanding of astronomy to figure out how far Earth is from the Sun (approx. 93 million miles), or guessing which country Paddington Bear is originally from (Peru!). Or, maybe, which musical “God Bless America” was originally written for (Yip, Yip, Yaphank, huh). Man, what I wouldn’t do for a Regis Philbin fist-bump right now.