A Good Binge Watch

There are many good binge watches in these days of COVID-19 lock-down. They are varying amounts of work, however. By "work," I mean how much mental energy you have to invest to really enjoy the show. Intricate plots, realistically stressful situations, and complex characters all require some thought and empathy to get the full measure of pleasure. King Lear and Airplane! are each great in their own way, but you know which one is more work, I hope.

Here's one that is no work at all:


The contestants work in teams to navigate "rooms" floored with lava (or more likely, mechanically-agitated, orange-tinted warm water). If one falls into it (above the knee is the cutoff, I think), then they're out. In the consistent, deliberate way that each run is edited, whoever falls in is never seen again during that run. Not until their team is doing a post-attempt recap do we get the assurance that they somehow survived.

As all this is happening, the host is providing half-snarky, half-sincere voice-over narration. Sometimes it's even funny:

Contestant: I'm trying to decide if I just fly or jump.

Narrator: If she can fly? She should fly. This course is much easier if you can fly.

Episode 10

That one cracked us up so badly we had to pause the show until we could collect ourselves. (Bits of me had fallen down a HVAC vent so there were flashlights and fishing line with bubblegum involved.)

Unlike American Ninja Warrior, which has become more like Queen For A Day than anything else, this show definitely does not take itself at all seriously. The winning team of each episode gets $10,000 and... a lava lamp. Because, of course they do.

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This article was updated on May 9, 2023

David F