Bottom line: Strip Search is a pleasant reality TV/Youtube Show that fits into a smaller chunk of time; the sense of humor, however, isn’t quite my cup of tea so I wouldn’t recommend bingeing.
Penny Arcade, if you are unfamiliar, is a hugely successful webcomic that focuses on videogames and videogame culture that started in 1998. Strip Search is a reality show that aired in 2013. The goal was to search for the next big name in webcomics. The show received thousands of applications which were narrowed to twelve contestants who participate in challenges in the hopes of winning $15k and office space in the Penny Arcade offices for a year.
The roughly twenty minute episodes alternate between challenges and eliminations. The challenges are not solely art based, contrary to what I expected. Though it makes sense. The Penny Arcade people aren’t just looking for an artist, they are looking for someone who has the ability to create a webcomic; which necessitates the ability to understand merchandising and working with clients and customers. So while there are a lot of creative challenges, some test soft skills like handling an interview or a nefarious contract.
The contestants, compared to all my other experiences with Reality TV, are really nice. It makes the challenges a lot more fun because they are all pleasant and excited. There are no alliances or “drama,” it’s just a lot of talented people jumping through hoops for their enjoyment as well as ours. I will say, that towards the end of the series, we already know that they can draw so the challenges get a little too silly for my tastes. I don’t really have an interest in watching them go-kart race or play ping pong; I want to see them do things that I can’t, namely, polished art.
That said, I found the elimination stages to be the most interesting part of the show. Two artists at a time each pick a theme out a waste paper basket, in the words of the one Penny Arcade guy, they each pick an idea that was “perhaps discarded before its time.” The artists then have an hour and a half to draw a comic based on those two themes: cats and cars, candy and religion, for example.
During the elimination stages, the artists are heckled by the two creators of Penny Arcade. They have some funny jabs here and there but, overall, their humor isn’t my cup of tea: lots of profanity and crude jokes. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a good poop joke as much as the next guy but when that’s all I’m hearing, it loses some of the effect.
A fun game to play with the show is to pause when the contestants pick their themes, and try to think of a comic you would draw. Heck, if you are inclined you could always draw it. Once you are done, you can continue playing to see how your idea compares. (I was pretty proud of a couple that I thought of, if I do say so myself.)
Overall, if you are interested in watching a largely pleasant hearted reality show, especially, one that centers around a creative subject, I’d recommend Strip Search. Because it wasn’t quite my sense of humor, I wouldn’t recommend bingeing it but it can be really fun to watch an episode or two here and there. The episodes are all on Youtube so it’s free and easy to watch. Here a link to the playlist with the episode (at least at the time of posting)
While my wife and I were watching Strip Search and were talking about how stressed out we would be if we were in the contestants shoes. I can’t really draw a straight line, let alone a sound character pose. But, we got to thinking, if we were on a reality show for something that we did for a living (or something that we loved) it might not feel as stressful. I wonder what my ideal reality TV show would be...
Thanks for reading! If you were going to be on a Reality TV Show, what do you think you would want it to be centered around?