ABC’s new game show The Final Straw is essentially a giant game of Jenga, but the unique approach and host Janelle James make the series a winner.
New ABC game show The final straw is a fun and unique series of competitions that features four teams of two players who essentially play a gigantic version of Jenga. The spectacle is entertaining and nerve-wracking as players attempt to remove large objects from differently themed towers to advance in the competition. Teams compete in three head-to-head matches before the last remaining team takes on the Mega Stack for a chance to win $250,000.
The concept of the game is incredibly silly as players focus their best efforts on removing objects from the tower without causing it to collapse. Although the rules are quite simple, the challenges come from the use of physics and the challenge of gravity. The entertainment value for the audience, meanwhile, comes from the uniqueness of the show, the deadpan humor of host Janelle James…and a panda.
What sets this competition series apart from others is the premise and stakes of the game. Compared to the upcoming James Bond reality show, the skills for The final straw is much lower, but so is the prize money at the end of the night. Competitors also don’t have to put everything into play. The Mega Stack requires teams to remove as many “cash capsules” as possible in two minutes and they can earn extra time by drawing larger “time capsules” . If they have removed the minimum number of “money capsules” before the timer runs out, they have the option to walk away with the money they won or continue for more. If they knock down the Mega Stack, they simply go down to the previous price level.
If the Mega Stack stays up when they walk away or once they’ve run out of time, James – recognizable from her role as lead Ava Coleman in ABC’s hit comedy Abbott Elementary School – and the team can knock it down for fun. Part of the viewers’ delight comes from seeing the chaos and destruction in a controlled environment. Other laughs come from the stacks themselves (a stack of groceries featured literal boxes of “Whoop-Ass”), the show’s unseen but quirky announcer Fred (voiced by Josh Robert Thompson), and a mascot of panda named Tipsy which is aptly named.
Anyone willing to play a giant game of Jenga could be a contestant on The final strawunlike other competitive shows that require some sort of seasoned craftsmanship like Bravo’s Excellent chef or a physical challenge like the one on CBS Fantastic race. It’s also a game show that isn’t a reboot of a classic title. The final straw is a breath of fresh air compared to these other series. The rules are simple, the game is silly, and the concept is unique for the genre.
Most importantly, participants can have fun while rooting to win the prize. Since the show isn’t skill-based, there’s no reason for players to feel competitive enough to demand cutthroat tactics. As players remove items, they are likely to receive praise and encouragement from their team and Janelle as they progress. Although the contestants aren’t challenged physically or mentally, there are still high enough stakes to make the game interesting and entertaining – and when a stack falls, it’s definitely worth watching.
The Final Straw airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC.