Earlier today I put down my copy of The Masculine Mystique and paused my DVD of What Men Want to read a press release announcing that the male psyche, widely respected the world over and revered even in TV commercials for its sophisticated, enigmatic nature, will be plumbed in yet another medium: the game show.
Game Show Network will later this year debut Mind of a Man, which at first blush sounds kind of like The Newlywed Game, but with strangers. In the half-hour show, a pair of female contestants will try to get inside the titular mind, except that, contrary to what the show’s name would have you believe, there is no single male mind the women must breach. Instead, the ladies are facing off against a sort of Arthur C. Clarke–style male Overmind. “The questions on the show have all been previously asked and answered by a survey of 100 men,” GSN’s PR folks write. In a sign of our increasingly demographied times, what we have here is essentially a Family Feud where, instead of 100 random visitors to Universal Studios Orlando representing “the public,” we have 100 random male visitors to Universal Studios representing “a man.” At least GSN won’t have to look far in its host search, as current Feud helmer Steve Harvey knows a thing or two about this new show’s mysterious subject.
“Just as men have never quite figured out ‘what women want,’ ” producer Mark Cronin says in GSN’s annoucnment, “we know that women are often completely mystified by men—‘Why didn’t he call?’ ‘What is he feeling?’ ‘Does he love ESPN more than me?’ ” How the show will go about answering these burning questions is hard to imagine—“Tara, we surveyed 100 men, asking them, ‘Why didn’t you call?’ The top 85 answers are on the board. Care to hazard a guess?”—but our brave contestants will have some help from a celebrity panel. “A mix of famous and funny male and female celebrities will offer their opinions about what men are really thinking,” GSN teases. Only time will tell whether the panel will be hokily fun, a la carpet-walled rerun favorite Match Game, or painfully canned, in the manner of Jerry Seinfeld’s anti-humorous NBC experiment The Marriage Ref.
If there’s anyone who can make this Frankenstein of game shows work, it’s Cronin, the man behind such incisive forums of gender relations as Bridalplasty and Megan Wants a Millionaire. All I know is, I look forward to tuning into GSN this fall to watch Richard Simmons and Whoopi Goldberg tell us what they really think about what men really think.