Quiz Show, 1994

The Quiz Show, which was released in 1994, is an American film. It is about a television show scandal during the 1950’s that is based off of a true story. The plot of the film is about a game show called Twenty-One. It is a quiz show that has two contestants on it and they are quizzed about factual knowledge and whoever gets the most questions correct wins. The scandal during the film is about the show being fixed with one of the contestants being given the answers. A theme that occurs throughout the film is lying. Throughout the whole film there are many stories within the story dealing with dishonesty.

The first time in the film where the audience sees a taste of a lie is when Twenty-One is not receiving great ratings anymore. Herbert Stempel had been the winner week after week. Enright and Freedman who help manage the television show see this and decide to take action. They bring in Charles Van Doren who is the son of a very well known couple. They encourage him to get the answers from them before the show so that he will know all the answers. Enright and Freedman want Charles to lie and cheat on their own show. Refusing to cheat, Charles says he will go on the show but will not cheat. Enright and Freedman then go to Hebert and tell him that he must take a dive and lose on purpose. Promising Hebert things in return, he decides to take a dive. Charles Van Doren becomes the new champion on the show after Herbert loses on purpose. Herbert is lied to, because he did not receive his end of the deal from Enright and Freedman. They promised him a future in television and did not follow through leaving Herbert with nothing except complete bitterness. Charles being the new champion continues to win week after week. Ratings for the show are doing extremely well and the television viewers across America have a new man to look up to. As we see the fame with Charles rise we learn that he receives the answers to the questions on the show. As the film continues more and more lies unravel. We find out that every person who has been the winner on the show consistently wins because they receive the questions and answers from the people who work for NBC. Herbert’s wife finds out that he lied to her because she had no clue that he had been receiving answers while being on the show. The whole show is rigged and is made up of relationships full of deception.

NBC and Twenty-One lie to the audience across the nation. Hebert and Charles lie and cheat deceiving all of the viewers in America. Enright and Freedman lie to Herbert about giving him future in television. And Herbert lies to his wife about receiving answers before the show would air.

In the beginning of the film, the audience sees the show as being totally normal and real. Everything seems fair and happy and everyone is content. When in reality, behind the scenes, everything is a farce and everyone is deceived. Through all the lies and dishonesty the show is morally twisted even though it is entertaining to America.





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