“Fear Factor” — The First Season

By Jae-Ha Kim
July 13, 2006

Fear Factor is not intended to be art. It is a gross-out, “oh no he didn’t eat (or do) that” game show that is intended to make the home viewer recoil in disgust (and sometimes squeal with glee).

All nine episodes from the first season, which debuted in 2001, are included on the two-disc set, which includes something for everyone who likes a little ick factor in their lives: Contestants being smothered by rats. Check. Seemingly sane folks willing to be chased by attack dogs. Check. The iron-stomached wonders who’ll eat animal eyeballs to win. Check.

Hosted by snarky Joe Rogan (NewsRadio), who sometimes appears amazed at what people are willing to do for a prize, Fear Factor does offer some truly thrilling elements (such as the episode where the contestants hurl themselves from a telephone pole). Yes, it’s not right, but there’s a certain part of most of us that can’t turn away from accidents. When we do this on a highway, we feel guilty. But with this show, hey, the players knew what they were signing up for.

The problem with the series is that the premise grows redundant pretty fast. Each contestant must make it through three challenges. The first is usually a test of your strength or speed (see above reference to attack dogs). The second relies on creepy crawly things either being ingested or smothering your face. And finally, we have tasks that must be completed faster than the other opponents.

Very few of the contestants exhibit actual fear. But revulsion? Absolutely.

July 13, 2006

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