Childbirth isn’t all fun and games … except when it is. Tonight at 10pm ET/PT (9pm CT), TLC will air a sneak peek of Labor Games, their new half-hour game show series. (The full series will debut at a not-yet-announced date later this year.) This special preview is part of TLC’s Mother of All Weeks network event.
In a very Cash Cab-esque type of game show, Labor Games surprises an unsuspecting couple with the opportunity to play a game for some pretty cool prizes. Have you ever had a baby? I mean, HAD a baby, like gone into labor yourself, with the terrible back spasms and the breathtaking pain? (Not diminishing anyone who hasn’t, just saying to those of you who have, it hurts. Kind of a lot. Right?!) Do you think that during the throes of labor you’d be able to answer some questions, if at the end there was a possibility of a $10,000 college fund for your child? At first, when I read the press release for this series, I thought, “No way. NOPE,” but I watched the sneak peek episodes and it’s not as far-fetched of an idea as I thought, at least for people that haven’t experienced labor yet.
So here’s what goes down: A couple goes to the hospital to have their baby. While the woman’s body is working on contractions and dilating and all of that good stuff, host Lisa Arch walks in and asks the couple if they’d like to be part of a game show. (I’m still not sure how, with HIPAA, this is all okay, but there must be some sort of waiver these people sign ahead of time, because I can’t imagine it’s really okay for a game show host and a camera crew to just walk into a delivery room and be all, “Oh, heyyyyy.”) If the couple agrees, a giant monitor is wheeled in, and a curtain opens, revealing some dazzling game show lights.
The couple works on answering seven baby/kid/childbirth-related multiple-choice questions. If they miss one question, they’re not out of the game, they just don’t win that prize. Two wrong answers, however, and they’re done. The couple does get one of what other shows would call a “lifeline,” only in this show it’s called an “umbilical cord” (groan … I guess that’s kind of funny, since an umbilical cord is a lifeline in the most literal sense). They can use their umbilical cord to ask a friend, or family member, or even part of the medical team (!) for help. There’s a bonus round fairly early in, where they are asked a question and have to rattle off as many right answers as possible for $50 per correct answer, but no penalty for wrong answers. (It reminds me of the Cash Cab Red Light Challenge, if that helps you get a good idea of what this is all like.) There’s also a “Couple’s Challenge,” which takes a bit more interaction. (Both of the sneak peek episodes include a challenge that involves taste-testing, only the woman can’t eat anything, so the impetus falls mostly on the man to answer correctly.)
Occasionally there’s a break in the game, while the woman has a contraction, and there’s a cute little graphic that shows how far she’s dilated, how far apart her contractions are, and how strong they are. Mercifully (at least in the first 2 episodes), the game seems to be played while contractions are still pretty far apart, and before the cervix is that far dilated. I noticed that these first 2 episodes feature couples having their first kids, which makes sense to me for 2 reasons: 1) labor tends to be longer for first-timers and 2) the rest of us remember how bad it was, and wouldn’t put ourselves in those positions knowing what kinds of beasts we turn into. I remember not-so-fondly how my own labor stalled, and I was like, “I’m fiiiiiiine; I don’t know why people complain so much about this.” So they broke my water, and then all hell broke loose. I would’ve probably destroyed a handheld camera and any person behind it after heading straight into active labor. But prior to my water breaking, I would’ve been all, “Average frequency of breastfeeding in first 2 weeks of life? EASY. I’ve been reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Bam! Ask me another!” At any rate, I’m not sure whether the whole series only features first-time parents, but I see why the first 2 episodes do.
The format of the show seems to follow the same formula in the first 2 episodes (and I’m guessing the formula will be similar in the next 10 episodes): Win something cool, win something cooler, bonus round, win baby wardrobe, win more cool stuff, couple’s challenge, win vacation, and finally win grand prize ($10K college fund which will mature over the next 18 years). I especially like the all-inclusive vacation that they gave away during question 6 of both episodes, because I vividly remember the feeling of, “Wow, I love this child with all my body and soul, and he’s the best thing ever, but I’M NEVER GOING TO SLEEP AGAIN AND I’M TRAPPED IN MILWAUKEE AND IT’S SO COLD, and I’ll never get out of here until he’s in college, but that’ll never really happen because every day is a freaking eternity right now.” (He’s nine now, and I’m way more sane, but I really could’ve used that all-inclusive about 8-1/2 months ago.)
All-in-all, the show is not as crazy as it sounds, and “not as crazy as it sounds” is pretty good when it comes to anything birth-related. Watching it is far less painful than back labor (yeowch), I’ll tell you that much.