As the presidential candidate debates continue, I thought of some other TV formats that might be both entertaining and tell us more than the repeated talking points. Americans like the drama of multiple candidates and they like TV so why not try some other options?
- A game show format. Want to see who is smarter? Jeopardy. How well they know Americans based on survey results? Family Feud. Want to see them all live together and who can form alliances? Big Brother or Survivor. Want to see some physical competitions? American Ninja Warrior. In any game show, we would see their competitive side and a particular ability.
- A reality TV format. How would they each get along with the Dance Moms? Or on The Biggest Catch? Or tracking down online personas in Catfish? Or looking for homes on a HGTV show? Though the show has particular setup, the candidates could act “natural.”
- A hidden camera show. The show could try to catch candidates in situations that push them to respond – like What Would You Do? – or it could be more of a comedy like Candid Camera. This could give viewers some idea of how candidates would react in particular situations.
- Some sort of presidential simulation. Lock them in a sound stage that mimics the White House or some other government facility. What would they do after two or three nights with little sleep in reaction to a military threat against the United States? How would they act toward a set of Congressional leaders who are tough negotiators? How would they treat their staff after weeks of tension?
I get why most candidates would be very hesitant about many of these. At the same time, debates where the candidates stand around talk/interrupt/respond to questions aren’t necessarily favorable to everyone. Additionally, we know what debates can tell us but these other TV options could offer very interesting (and entertaining) insights into the candidates. These don’t have to be a joke if they are well-designed and the candidates take them seriously.