Home  >>  Write  >>  Entertainment  >>  TV  >>  Reality TV  >>  Survival Reality TV  >>  Fear Factor


Fear Factor

Pre miering in the summer of 2001, NBC’s Fear Factor brought a refreshing change of pace to the reality TV world.  Whereas other reality shows of that time had allusions to high-brow entertainment like Survivor or were remorselessly shameless like Temptation Island, Fear Factor was able to straddle the middle ground.  At a time where most reality TV shows were about dating, Fear Factor was about thrills and showcasing the crazy stunts that anybody over the age of six would enjoy.

Hosted by stand-up comedian and former star of the underrated sitcom News Radio, Joe Rogan, there was already an element of star power attached to Fear Factor.  What set apart Fear Factor from other reality TV programming was that the stunts were the star of the show, not the contestants.  Whereas most reality TV programming would tell a story by following the reactions and actions of its contestants, Fear Factor was more like a game show, albeit one conceived by the X-games Generation.

Although Fear Factor isn’t exactly the most respected television show, it has managed to last since its debut three years ago.  Considering the temporary nature of most reality TV shows, this means that Fear Factor is practically an institution.  With its current format and high ratings, it isn’t hard to imagine that Fear Factor will endure for many years.  With a premise of making contestants face their fear with elaborate stunts and its use of extremely attractive contestants, Fear Factor has a winning formula.

On one memorable episode, contestants had to: be harnessed between two horses and dragged 35 miles per hour for 100 yards; lie down for four minutes in their tank tops and shorts in a pit full of 400 rats; and climb out of the driver’s side window of a car that is suspended over 150 feet above a vast expanse of water, go to the hood of the car and retrieve a ribbon, move back to the trunk of car and retrieve the car keys, climb back into the car, turn the key in the ignition, and honk the horn, all the while moving on a car that is spinning and sprayed with water.  If those stunts sound crazy to you, you should know that this was just the first episode and things have gotten a little bit crazier in the last couple of years.

Full of intense stunts that are designed to exploit common fears that everybody has (ie. heights, rats), Fear Factor is one of the most entertaining reality TV shows right now.  On each episode, six contestants compete against each other in three different and challenging tasks.  The loser of each task is then eliminated during the show until the final challenge.  The winner of each episode receives $50,000, which I think you’d agree is pretty good incentive for undergoing these stunts.

Although, Fear Factor doesn’t address most people’s fears (like my own personal fear of giving a speech to a room of 500 people, which would actually make a pretty funny Fear Factor episode), Fear Factor has managed to find ways to keep their shows fresh.  Often they have specially themed episodes including a Celebrity Fear Factor, a couples Fear Factor, a best friend’s Fear Factor, and even a Tournament of Champions style Fear Factor.  That’s a whole lot of fear being factored.