Why do LGBTQ contestants do so well on game shows?

Amy Schneider winning on the January 7, 2021 edition of "Jeopardy!"
Amy Schneider winning on the January 7, 2021 edition of "Jeopardy!" Photo: Screenshot/Jeopardy!

One thing is for sure: Game shows are for the LGBTQ community. All the way back from shows like Match Game and Hollywood Squares to game shows today like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, out contestants have made history for being memorable winners and creating famous moments on screen.

Game shows aren’t inherently queer; however, the LGBTQ community seems to flock to them. There’s not a specific reason why game shows are so popular within the queer community, but there are possibilities.

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Game shows are popular within the LGBTQ community because gays love to be on camera. One can’t fault the queer community for wanting a little bit of camera time. Also, the LGBTQ community knows their trivia, facts, and puzzles, and they become wildly successful for being all-around impressively smart individuals. Another reason why gays get chosen for game shows is that their personalities are large and make for good television. These are all theories but there has to be some truth to the matter.

Regardless of the reason why, the LGBTQ community makes for good television and there are some memorable moments that are super queer.

For example, back when Super Password was on the air, Rip Taylor tore off his toupee in response to Patty Duke messing up a clue. It was such a flamboyant moment that anyone in the audience would’ve figured out Taylor was gay. Back when television was more civilized, this was a giant leap forward for LGBTQ representation with the use of a hairpiece.

Another great example of good game show TV came in the form of Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares. Lynde, known for Bewitched, became a popular staple on the series for being a sassy gay man. He would lodge innuendo left and right on the game show as he became a hit with the studio audience for not taking the game too seriously and for having such a fun time. Along with Taylor, Lynde made strides in LGBTQ representation on television for just being himself and winning America over with his effortless charm.

LGBTQ people love attention, especially from attractive game show hosts. When Scrabble was on the air, contestant Terry Ray famously flirted with host Chuck Woolery, alluding to the idea that he calls out for the host during intimate moments. Flirting on-air wasn’t exactly mainstream at the time, so that flamboyant comment was unexpected and hilarious. Audiences ate it up and it made Ray a star, earning him a seat at the table as he went on to become a film and TV producer.

Another popular and long-running series that thrives on big personalities is The Price is Right. The popularity of flamboyant personalities was proven when contestant Steven Raff fanned out when he was called up to the stage by Drew Carey. Although it stunned Carey, audiences ate his exuberance up. This was especially the case when Raff spun the wheel and ended up on the floor of the stage. Audiences couldn’t get enough of him and his big personality landed him a job as an actual game show producer. Gays not only win big on game shows and make big impressions but they also get a job in the end. Now that’s a major win!

Moving on to the shows of today, Jeopardy! has become regular stomping grounds for LGBTQ contestants. From Amy Schneider to Mattea Roach, out contestants have been memorable on the series for their big personalities. Louis Virtel made headlines for his finger snapping, and even though he didn’t win during his episode, he still made history for being a flamboyant delight. But for contestants who have been successful on the series like Schneider and Roach, LGBTQ contestants have proven their smarts time and time again. And they’ve made history. Singling out Schneider, a trans contestant, she became the first queer contestant to win 40 games in a row giving her the second-longest win streak in the show’s history.

Keeping with the Jeopardy! theme, the series has also had famous contestants compete, like on their Power Players Edition. Anderson Cooper was one such famous contestant who won big on the show after answering questions about musicals and LGBTQ playwrights. It looks like the episode was easily in Anderson’s favor. Besides Anderson, other famous contestants include Neil Patrick Harris, Isaac Mizrahi, and Rosie O’Donnell. Talk about an abundance of gay riches.

Although it’s unknown why the LGBTQ community is such a hit with game shows, it is clear that they are. Gays thrive in environments requiring their smarts and they make for great entertainment value for an audience. It’s because of game shows that positive representation and acceptance have flourished in media. These contestants paved the way by winning big and winning hearts, and the LGBTQ community will continue to do so as they make more historic strides in the future.

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