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You vs. 5th Grader: Who wins?

February 7, 2007

[UPDATE: Some new controversy over the selection of the “5th Graders” for this show is developing here. Click the link to see how I explain it all away…]

There’s a new game show on the horizon from FOX — the people who brought you the short-lived gamers “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?“, “The Chamber” and “The Rich List.”

smarter logoThe new show is called “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” And the show is seeking “attractive” contestants from the Los Angeles area to face off against an army of top elementary-school talent. It airs Feb. 27 after American Idol.

BuzzerBlog pointed this game show out in recent posts, and asked the question whether this will become a game-show version of the Tonight Show segment “JayWalking”, where host Jay Leno goes out on the streets to talk to everyday people and ask them surprisingly-easy questions, just to make fun of their ignorance.

The blog notes that all of the recent Craiglist postings seeking contestants focuses almost exclusively on the “good looks” of the contestant.

Which makes me think we’re in for a train wreck.

I sort of feel bad for the folks that would sign up to go on this show, knowing they’re going to be “ambushed” with hard questions like “Name the five Great Lakes” and “What are the two elements that make up water?” In the end, if you win big on this show, won’t you just FEEL like a loser when you exit the sound stage, realizing that you beat 5th graders?

A side note: FOX’s game show history was tarnished by the recent cancellation of “The Rich List“, which many game show fans (including myself) though had tremendous potential. It lasted just ONE episode, putting it in the rare club of TV series that got just one viewing before cancellation.

Here’s the list of those doomed shows from Wikipedia (and I’m sad to say, I watched the one episode of “Emily’s Reasons Why Not,” because I’m a sucker for Heather Graham):

Quick question for the readers of this post: Would you go on this show? If not, what would the top prize money have to be to get you to?

Another bad sign: The host of “5th Grader” is Jeff Foxworthy. Ugh. Do you feel a wave of “You might be dumber than a fifth grader…” jokes coming on?

[SECOND UPDATE: I finally got around to putting up a review of the show’s first three episodes here.  Thanks to all those who commented here for ideas.]

  1. Zoey Case permalink
    February 18, 2007 12:34 am

    I went and saw a taping of “are you smarter than a 5th grader” as a favor for a friend. It turned out to be 5 hours of boring hell. The contestants were strange air-heads, the kids were creepy wanna be actors. It was like the crew was making up the show as they were taping it. The funniest part was when they surprised a contestant with a childhood friend he hadn’t seen in years, and what you’ll see on your TV when it airs is the product of several takes (Look surprised!) You never saw a crowd get up and run so fast for the door when the finally told us we could leave.

  2. MGrella permalink
    February 21, 2007 5:39 pm

    Not to say that attractive people are stupid, but if the only requirement is that the contestant be good looking, then yes…train-wreck central! Still, I’m looking foward to this show to test my own memory. 5th grade was a loooong time ago!

  3. Christopher Wondra permalink
    February 22, 2007 4:28 pm

    I recently blogged about this “find and mock stupid people” phenomena. And this post just supports it.

    I don’t care how pretty you are. How much value is there in knowing the names of the Great Lakes? If you have a profession related to the facts–yes, obviously. But what if you’re a hairstylist? What if you’re the best damn hairstylist in the world?

    I don’t know about you, but as a teacher, this type of humor is getting pretty boring.

  4. February 23, 2007 3:59 pm

    i No dat a fith Gradur is smartur then me!

  5. Mom of Fifth Grader permalink
    February 25, 2007 11:26 am

    I answered an ad on Craig’s List looking for “families” to be on a new game show. When they found out that my husband had been on “Jeopardy!” they didn’t want him, nor did they want me when they found out that I was on “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.”

    They did like my 5th grader and wanted her to audition. When she went to a second callback, she had to take a test. One of the kids was getting help from his mom on the test. My daughter was indignant and said something. The people at the show didn’t care and actually, he’s been hired to be on the show. They only hired SAG/AFTRA kids not regular 5th graders, like my daughter. (Who just loves game shows.)

    I watched several mock games, which they were testing with Jon Lovitz, and I have to say that a kid being fed the answers is going to have an impact on the game. (The questions from the test were given to the contestants and the kids were their lifelines.) Personally, I thought that it was illegal to tamper with Game Shows, but who knows, the show is on FOX.

  6. February 27, 2007 10:01 pm

    lol — that show is awful … just saw the first episode tonight, and it’s terrible — the kids are absolutely ridiculous with their goofy laughs at foxworthy’s jokes … don’t get me wrong, though, I think foxworthy is awesome, but this show is awful

  7. February 27, 2007 11:27 pm

    Actually, I sort of liked the show… it has charm, which offsets the headache-inducing stupidity of the contestants.
    More on that in a post tomorrow.

  8. February 27, 2007 11:59 pm

    I personally think that the show was just awful, because of the fact that the fifth graders are fed the answers in advance. Then how the hell are you going to say that “are you smarter than a 5th grader?”. From my perspective there is no honesty in this show. I don’t think this will be a success.

  9. Bluestang permalink
    February 28, 2007 10:19 am

    There has to be a gimmick to this show. The producers are not going to have any contestant that would be able to get all the right answers. I don’t know how they pick contestants but I can only speculate that they are going to pick people who aren’t overly intelligent with trivia. The only reason this show has any success is that they ask questions that don’t come up in adult life but very rarely. Still it is interesting to test myself to see how much I remember.

  10. Wtholyf permalink
    February 28, 2007 5:12 pm

    I saw the show last night with my cousin and I must say, some of it is total BS. I’m a freshmen right now in college and my cousin is in the 5th grade, I never did ANY health courses until Highschool nevermind the 4th grade. At first I thought, “Wow, they’ve sure changed it since my time.” But she (my cousin) instantly blurted “4th grade health?” She didn’t even know it was considered a class. To be fair, however, the question itself (what does REM stand for) was pretty simple. But not only was it a technical thing to remember, it was definitly not something a 5th grader, let alone a 4th grader to study.

  11. Poobarellah permalink
    February 28, 2007 6:37 pm

    I’m a sucker for reality/reality-based television, but I’ll probably sit this one out…I think Foxworthy did it for me!

  12. February 28, 2007 6:54 pm

    We watched the show last evening and decided it simply shows that the curriculum for elementary school children is not great. The reason most of the adults didn’t know the answers is because most (not all) of the questions asked were never really needed in daily life, and thereby stuffed some place in our brains in the “never used” brain cells.

    Personally I don’t know if it’s smart to put in the head of 5th graders that they are smarter than adults with college degrees. Might develop into far greater problems later…just a thought:)

  13. Jollena permalink
    February 28, 2007 7:21 pm

    hey this show is great and funny!
    xoxo Jollena

  14. Jollena permalink
    February 28, 2007 7:22 pm

    hey awaiting moderation
    what does that mean?

    love Jollena

  15. Jollena permalink
    February 28, 2007 7:23 pm

    “I personally think that the show was just awful, because of the fact that the fifth graders are fed the answers in advance. Then how the hell are you going to say that “are you smarter than a 5th grader?”. From my perspective there is no honesty in this show. I don’t think this will be a success.”

    i agree lmao

  16. Jollena permalink
    February 28, 2007 7:24 pm


    There has to be a gimmick to this show. The producers are not going to have any contestant that would be able to get all the right answers. I don’t know how they pick contestants but I can only speculate that they are going to pick people who aren’t overly intelligent with trivia. The only reason this show has any success is that they ask questions that don’t come up in adult life but very rarely. Still it is interesting to test myself to see how much I remember.”

    i agree lol im just playing dirty mother

  17. cow poop permalink
    February 28, 2007 7:59 pm

    im dummer than a fith grader. i didnt know the ship that sailed the pilgrums.

  18. Russ permalink
    February 28, 2007 10:00 pm

    Another waste of time, I give it a month of air time before it’s axed.

  19. cheller permalink
    February 28, 2007 10:17 pm

    I have just finished watching the second episode and I semi-enjoyed it. I am a closet trivia geek so I love testing how much I remember. I have just recently gone back to school to finish my degree so I have been reading a lot in order to get myself back in the swing of learning. I would almost like to see how I would do against the 5th graders even with them being fed the answers. I knew every single one of the answers to the questions tonight. Who doesn’t know how many sides a trapezoid has?!?!

  20. February 28, 2007 10:43 pm

    Marsha … that’s much like my calculus classes … “No, I don’t need to know what X equals, just give me change for my McGriddle!”

    I think the contestants are missing an opportunity to knock out the hardest “5th grade level” questions early on with their helps, then answer the “easier” ones for the large money amounts. I wonder if someone will figure that out in a future episode.

    Please go check out the follow-up story: for more info about the show.

  21. 8th Grader permalink
    March 1, 2007 12:00 am

    What I expect is that the fifth graders on the show will grow up and forget everything, just like the “desperate adults” who actually had the stupidity to be on the show. This show is just coorupting the human nature of growing up and forgetting everything that you learned in grade school. I’m in the eighth grade, and don’t even know most of these answers. I don’t even think I ever learned them. Also the kids on the show are very annoying, with their snobby expressions and their petty remarks. This show is worse than “Jerry Springer”, it is teaching the young people of today to be arrogant brats, and we all know we don’t want that.

  22. rose permalink
    March 1, 2007 11:54 am

    Well first of all let me just start by saying that I think it is just so out there and off the wall to let ADULTS come on and play for money and the kids help them with the answers!!!!
    That I have seen there has been no mention of anything going to the child!
    There are so many things that could be done differently! Those kids are starting out their life, not adults and if they are REALLY as smart as they are made out to be well then THEY should be the ones getting at least some of the money that is up for grabs!
    I have read other posts that have said the kids are given answers ahead of time, that may be so that may not be so. I think it was a…well as we say now days “a brain fart!” and someone just really didnt think it out!
    Money for scholarships or to help the schools at which they attend are two things that automatically co me to mind as a better use for the money.
    I mean if you look at it this way its like the kids get up there do a lot of the work and walk away with nothing!!!!
    At least I havent heard any mention of the kids getting any of the money!
    Futher more there was a question on the show last night that was just ALL wrong!!!! Umm… I think we need to go back and figure out what the Dewey Decimal System really is??? Hmmm… make you wonder…. well let me tell you…it is a system of cataloging used by libraries to keep books of similar subject matter housed together and a fashion that makes it easier to find things by a reference of numbers.
    In my library there are NOT numbers assigned to our FICTION books and I dont know of any other library that assigns numbers to FICTION books. To my knowledge numbers and the dewey system was developed for NON-FICTION books????????
    Was national television wrong???????
    Is there someone on staff that is INDEED “Dumber than a 5th Grader”
    Oh and then there is the issue of teaching kids it is ok to CHEAT????
    Who came up with that one???????
    As a former teacher it just really makes me wonder what we are teaching these kids???
    I for one think we need to enforce as many positive things as we can, these kids have enough negative influence in their lives!!
    Just a few random thoughts from someone who found it strange that we compare a 5th grader with an adult and then get the answer wrong to a very simple question!

  23. March 1, 2007 12:17 pm

    From the Wikipedia entry on Dewey Decimal classification of books…

    “It is a common misconception that all books in the DDC are non-fiction. The DDC has a number for all books, including those that generally become their own section of fiction. If DDC rules are strictly followed, American fiction is classified in 813. Most libraries create a separate fiction section because of the space that would be taken up in the 800s.”

    Yeah, I thought I was wrong on that too… 🙂

  24. March 1, 2007 4:57 pm

    This show is based on the fact that they will go for the stupidest 10% of adults, and smartest 10% of 5th graders.

    This question of participant intelligence is completely ignoring the selection of questions, which just very well may favor a 5th grader’s interests or the curriculum of their current school.

    My prediction is that this show plays on all aspects of the above. Pitting less than intelligent adults, against brilliant kids in topics that the kids have a much better understanding of. What will result out of such a contrived situation is a ridiculous show who’s transparency will be seen through by the average viewer… resulting in a quick cancellation of the show.

  25. March 1, 2007 5:18 pm

    I didn’t see it but a friend of mine did, and she was sort of appalled that anyone would be willing to humiliate themselves like that. I mean really, winning would be almost more embarassing than losing.

    I guess that 15 minutes of fame (or something) is too much to resist.

  26. eighth grader permalink
    March 1, 2007 7:37 pm

    yeah, i saw the show last night and realized that i didn’t know the answer to HALF those questions. but i saw a commercial for a guy who didn’t even know what 5 x 2 is. what the heck. seriously, they are making adults go on this show to look stupid. i hate the kids on that show too. they are laughing at everything jeff foxworthy says but with an attitude. its not jeff foxworthy that stinks, its just the adults, the kids, the questions, and everything else.

  27. March 1, 2007 8:42 pm

    Ok. I am a 5th grader and that show is like sooooooooooooo easy. I mean whay is a prime #?
    duh its a # that does not have any common factors. or basicly an odd #. except for 9. its sooo easy.

  28. March 1, 2007 8:46 pm

    i think i am an average 5th grader and so all the questions are too ez. and thats it.

  29. March 1, 2007 9:37 pm

    Ha! Bree … you fifth graders are sooo smart 🙂 Welcome and thanks for reading …

  30. Alexander permalink
    March 1, 2007 10:04 pm

    I saw a clip of the show and it was horrible. I don’t think it will do good especially since it is coming from the same people that brought you Who wants to marry a millionaire(catastrophy) and The Chamber. Also, not to defend the contestants, but the questions they ask are questions for a 5th grader. They ask questions like what is a trapezoid.?Who remembers that if they are majoring in business management or sports management.

  31. March 1, 2007 10:13 pm

    Alex, don’t fret … both me and my wife missed the “how many teaspoons in a tablespoon” question (both said 2, it’s 3).
    Hmmm….I wonder if THAT’s why those Christmas cookies tasted so weird?? 🙂

  32. March 1, 2007 10:26 pm

    Listen up, people!

    This show is a contrived mess; a dumbed down and strung out version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

    The kids are fed the questions. And they don’t get prize money, because they are PAID TO BE PART OF THE SHOW.

    I think the producers don’t want to give away a lot of prize money, so they have Foxworthy drag it out as agonizingly slow as possible. How else to explain getting only 5 or 6 very simple questions covered in a half hour show?

    Not only will I never watch this show, but I will leave the room or change the channel if I ever accidentally come across it.

    BTW, the plug on Fox tonight was that this is the “#1 New Show”. Only explanation that I could come up with is that is is the ONLY “new” show this week.

  33. Garry Garry permalink
    March 1, 2007 10:57 pm

    Who cares how obnoxious the kids are or how embarassing the questions are? I’d like to be on there for 1 reason and one reason only.

    Can there POSSIBLY be any easier way to get a million dollars? I thought “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” was easy until I saw this farce!

  34. N3RDSfriend permalink
    March 1, 2007 11:41 pm

    Personaly everybody has problems and I would go on the show to win some money! I don’t care how humiliating iit would be to say I’m smarter than a fifth grader! I would be $1,000,000 richer! Do you know what I can do with $1,000,000? (Well $600,000 after taxes) All I know is my mother and I would be set and that’s enough for me. At least I know I would go home with $175,000 because I definately knew there were 200 decades in two thousand years. Ha ha! Honestly I was at work and only watched the last few minutes of the show. I didn’t know until now that the kids were fed the answers, if that’s really true, but I guess! Lmao! Pretty much just a show I guess.

  35. Jennifer permalink
    March 1, 2007 11:44 pm

    I want to try out for the show.

  36. marco permalink
    March 2, 2007 12:06 am

    Quoting Bree: “whay is a prime #?
    duh its a # that does not have any common factors. or basicly an odd #. except for 9. its sooo easy.”

    … or 15, 21, 25, 27, 33, 35, 39…. 6639… 7893…

  37. March 2, 2007 1:01 am

    They come out with the weirdest tv shows now. What’s next? No doubt a cross between this show and Survivor!


  38. March 2, 2007 7:06 am

    Just to make it clear…
    The kids are NOT being “fed” the answers by producers.
    If you check the show’s end credits, you’ll see this disclaimer:

    “Members of the class were provided with workbooks that covered grade school level material in a variety of subjects. Some of the material could have formed the basis of questions used by producers in the show.”

    Now, the workbooks could be straight reading materials, or lists of hundreds (thousands?) of standardized test questions. We don’t know, because it’s not a transparent process.

    But, according to the 1960s law that governs these shows (I talk more about this at, the contestant (the adults) must be made aware of this education process before the game starts in the official rules they are given.

  39. Emily permalink
    March 2, 2007 3:24 pm

    This show is overall a good and funny one to watch. There are two problems that bother me about it though. One, there are way too many commericals interrupting the show. Two, if the contestant takes forever to answer a question, the recorder should cut the time wasted so that we [the viewers] may continue watching the show, without wasting time while watching them try to guess an answer. It takes way too long to go from question to question. It would be very nice of you to cut down the time wasted. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Good luck on the show!

  40. March 3, 2007 8:54 am

    I was delighted to learn that, yes, I AM smarter than a 5th grader.

    I’m not sure that the results would have been the same had it been a 7th grader.


  41. March 4, 2007 6:12 pm

    Watched this show last week msyelf. Can’t say I was awfully impressed with it. Can’t believe their touting this thing as the next big thing on TV.

    In particular. Foxworthy’s snyde remarks to the contestants weren’t funny, it just felt like he put the contestants to more unease than they were as it is. Also I have to say th show seeme majorly made up and fixed. Anyone suprised by thata?

  42. Jeffery B. permalink
    March 5, 2007 11:52 am

    I loved this show…. I think everyone who is talking negative about the show are the ones who are dumber than a fifth grader and are mad about it, so they come on this website and dis it.

  43. stupidhead permalink
    March 5, 2007 3:45 pm

    stupid people

  44. March 5, 2007 4:39 pm

    I LLOOVVEEEEEEEEEEE this show but thats probably because I myself am a 5th grader. Anyone agree with me that this show ROCKS !!!!!!!

  45. March 5, 2007 4:50 pm

    I like this show beacause im a 5th grader myself. But not all of those questions are for the right grade. My friend’s brother said he just learned a question on there, and he is in the 10th grade. But this show still rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. March 5, 2007 8:00 pm

    Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

  47. March 5, 2007 8:01 pm

    Ar eyo smarter than a fifth grader?

  48. whitley phan permalink
    March 8, 2007 10:30 pm

    how to become a ‘ARE YOU SMARTER THAN 5TH GRADER ?” contestant ?

  49. Kimberly permalink
    March 10, 2007 10:54 am

    Can the kids really be that smart???

    No! After watching several shows I saw the kids wearing earpieces. Spenser wears his in his left ear (see hair placemnet around the ear). The boy with the glasses is only profiled from his left side. This was very evident on Thursday show this week. You can actually see the earpieces in the beginning of the show when they pan the kids. Sometimes the girls flip their hair and it is caught on camera.

    The kids are actors! No big surprise. I saw the red head boy on the Disney channel on Friday as a reporter from a helicopter. They were doing “Disney News Reprts”. Was that Alana sitting at the newdesk on the same program??

    The kids are being fed the answers and being paid to act. Thats show business!

  50. ryan permalink
    March 15, 2007 9:38 pm

    just another way to show how friggin stupid americans want to get free money because the too damn lazy to get a real job and actually earn their money.

  51. Lauren permalink
    March 15, 2007 9:46 pm

    Spencer is SO cute!!! 🙂

  52. Jimbob permalink
    March 15, 2007 10:54 pm

    Some of the people on there are so ditzy like one guy tonight said he needed to peek at Laura’s answer because he didn’t know what country you were in when you crossed the northern border of the U.S.A. he was gonna pick Mexico and that is what he said even after he peeked at Laura’s answer but Laura saved him………………………… and I have a question—–Do the kids get anything for staying up late on school nights and beeing on the show I mean I am a young adult and I really think that the kids should get paid $10.00 a night that they are on the show don’t you????

  53. Jimbob permalink
    March 15, 2007 10:58 pm

    hey Kimberly even though I have no idea who you are that is Alana sitting at the desk on disneychannel news reports

  54. Jimbob permalink
    March 15, 2007 10:59 pm

    I like the show because I am a 15 grader myself I know ALL the questions!!! LOL

  55. Jimbob permalink
    March 15, 2007 11:00 pm

    HOW DO YOU BECOME A CONTESTANT ON THE SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  56. Brianna permalink
    March 16, 2007 6:05 am

    I am a fifth grader. Some of those questions on the first grade side were not even first grade questions. I still like the show!!!!!!!!

  57. March 16, 2007 10:53 am

    I’m not proud! I watched last night. I laughed all through the show. I couldn’t believe how dumb the contestants were. Heck, I don’t know all the answers, but I can surely make some dough here.

    I couldn’t believe that this guy couldn’t figure 1/2 the area of a 12×12 square…

    Where’s the dotted line…I want to be on!

  58. March 24, 2007 5:28 am

    I think the show is interesting, but boring at the same time. The questions seem very advanced for grades first, second, third, forth, and fifth. The questions don’t fit the grade levels. I do agree adults just go on there for money, not to educate themselves or to learn or anything. The whole show isn’t reality. i think they should have a time limit between each question, becuase the contestants take to long to answer. I didn’t know half the questions on there. And I’m in the 6th grade. i didn’t learn any of that stuff in fifth grade or any other grades i’ve been in. Too many comercials. The show is an total act, and I thought it was going to be better.
    But above all ,y dislikes of the show, it was helpful to watch. i learned something new.

  59. Craig permalink
    March 24, 2007 5:06 pm

    If I were to go on this show, and it wasn’t fixed, I’d refresh my memory, maybe look at a U.S. map, know my location on the globe, crack open a geometry textbook, etc. After all, they admit that’s what the kids do. But all of these “contestants” appear to have not studied any of the material since they were in the 5th grade. With $1M at stake I wouldn’t rely on 20 year old memories.

  60. Sal permalink
    March 30, 2007 6:39 pm

    i love the show because i am a 5th grader and i have fun answering them i am in a advanced class so i know all of them

  61. Sal permalink
    March 30, 2007 6:43 pm

    hey jim bob that is not alana on that disneychannel news report but jacob is that boy so ha

  62. Shelbi permalink
    April 5, 2007 3:35 pm

    omg……..this is like the best show eva. cuz like i like all the people getting embarassed on the show. it is hilarious. i mean it seems like they r stupid or something. it is soooooooo funny!!!!!!!!

  63. Jordan permalink
    April 9, 2007 12:25 pm

    Personally I think this show is okay. It does lack a few things. I don’t think it’s fair to the s to make them state that they are not smarter than a fifth grader. They are smarter than a fifth grader because they know things that are helping them in today’s life. It’s like having a show were fifth graders answer college questions or figure out taxes and if they lose then they have to say they are not smarter than an . DUH! Jeff Foxworthy is the most obnoxious. He mocks the contestants endlessly. I want to see HIM (Jeff) be a contestant and see how well he does.

    Some of it is SOOO frustrating but watcha gonna do? I think this show won’t last long.

  64. Paul permalink
    May 11, 2007 3:58 pm

    I just watched the show and it’s a ripoff!! I’ll never watch it again. The male contestant was going for the million dollar question. . . category. . . ASTRONOMY. The question was,”What was the name of the first satellite placed into orbit by the US?” The answer was the Explorer and the contestant lost. The correct category for that question is Space Exploration, the physical study of outer space by both manned and unmanned means.
    ASTRONOMY is the branch of physics that studies celestrial bodies and the universe as a whole. He got ripped off!! He should sue!


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