Here at Entertainment Weekly, we’ll stop at nothing to nail a story — even if that means flagrantly violating one of the basic tenets of the American workplace: Keep your embarrassing relatives hidden from sight. Jessica Shaw and Dan Snierson were given the delicate assignment of corralling their kin and appearing on Family Feud (airing Feb. 25, check local listings), the venerable syndicated game show in which two clans face off by guessing how a majority of people answered a particular question. Feud — which is seen by 3.7 million viewers every day — is one of the most iconic game shows in history, and one of the longest-running. Since its debut in 1976, Feud has produced thousands of episodes, four hosts (Richard Dawson, Ray Combs, Louie Anderson, and current question king Richard Karn, who — in reference to the buss-obsessed original host — describes his emcee style thusly: ”I didn’t feel like kissing was the way to go, but I’ll give someone a hug”), and countless moronic moments (Name a famous Michael. Angelo!). While exploring the appeal of a show that’s strained almost as many bloodlines as Jerry Springer, will Snierson and Shaw uncover any top answers on the board, keep the family peace, and win $20,000 for charity? Survey says. . .
DS Do you feel any different now that we’re TV stars? I mean, aside from the lack of dignity?
JS Yes, I’ve been waking up every day at 5:48 a.m., reliving my mortification. Please tell me I didn’t humiliate myself beyond recognition.
DS We both did. Let’s just be thankful it wasn’t in high-definition.
For starters, wrangling the families proved to be a herculean task.
JS Why couldn’t my family embrace televised awkwardness? Excuses started pouring in: My sister was pregnant (getting knocked up to avoid the Feud — so transparent); her husband had higher standards (he’s a rabbi and feared inappropriate questions); and my computer-programmer brother was too shy (thanks a lot, only Shaw with Mensa status). Which left my cousins, Elizabeth and Danny, who basically said, ”We hate you for asking but love you too much to say no.” Desperate for fourth and fifth team members, I unleashed a Jewish guilt storm (see: bat mitzvah bowl cut) on my mom, Evelyn, and trapped my boyfriend, Steve, who thought he’d have immunity because he’s not an actual relative. He underestimated my desperation: I told the Feud producers we were engaged.
DS I’ll see your rejection and raise you some pain. My stepfather — no pop-culture junkie — declined to participate. I believe his exact words were: ”What?? I’m not going on one of those trashy reality shows!” My mother, Joyce, was slightly more cooperative, though she said, ”I’d rather be on $10,000 Pyramid. Couldn’t you get me on that instead?” Thankfully, three relatives stepped up: my sister, Jennifer, a salesperson who’s quick on her feet; my cousin Matt, a cocksure private banker who promised victory in somewhat coarse language; and my aunt Lynne, a former TV sportscaster who laughed in the face of bright camera lights. News flash: Team Shaw was toast.