Netflix's 'Floor is Lava' is proof that game shows have gotten out of hand


On Friday, Netflix’s latest foray into reality programming is set to debut, and my shins vicariously hurt just thinking about it. Floor Is Lava, named for the household game which requires you to parkour and bound around the living room without touching the floor, will take that initial premise to its extreme endpoint.

As its first trailer outlines, contestants must make their way from a room’s entrance to exit, swinging from chandeliers and leaping across chintzy props and furniture. If they fall at any point, it’ll be into a pool of piping hot red liquid. Since no one in the preview truly screams bloody murder upon falling in, I doubt that it’s actually boiling for liability reasons. Still, Netflix promises that Floor Is Lava is “the hottest game show in history.”

Easy as it may be to write off as a fake 30 Rock show idea, this thing actually looks pretty fun. Much like seemingly every other new game show, Floor Is Lava is a painful endeavor for its contestants. The modern game show, whether you credit it to American Ninja Warrior, Wipeout, or some combination of the two, prides itself on the dangerous and extreme. The past few months have also seen the premiere of J.J. Watt’s Ultimate Tag, Rob Gronkowski’s Game On, and Adam Scott’s Don’t — all shows that are predicated on physical challenges. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s The Titan Games, another show cut from the American Gladiators cloth, is on its second season.

Gone are the days of sweater vests and trivia questions — every game show is an escape room with a side of CrossFit, with the budget to make Fear Factor feel like a blockbuster by comparison. Although Jeopardy!’s Greatest of All Time tournament yielded record ratings, there’s more of an appetite for bruises and hair-raising stunts. It’s only a matter of time before that pendulum swings back, but this is what we’re stuck with for now.