Why is gambling such a common theme for TV?

Gambling is one of the most popular pastimes in Canada, and it has been found that nearly 70 percent of the population has participated in some form of gambling in the past. Gambling games are characterized by being generally exciting yet simple to understand. With such a high number of Canadians being familiar with gambling, it has often been used as a theme within TV shows. Certain series have had gambling-specific episodes, while game shows have taken the concept of gambling and made it into a reality competition.

Thrilling and Relatable
One of the major reasons that gambling is often depicted on screen is down to the fact that it is strongly associated with excitement. A common trick to upping the thrill levels in a TV series is to include some elements of chance and gambling, in which the fate of the characters could go either way.

One recurring theme from works of fiction is to give the protagonist a tough ultimatum to deliberate. This dilemma, the result of which could go either way, is often used as a way to form a cliffhanger at the end of the episode. It isn’t always explicitly linked to chance or gambling, but the character’s choice can have dramatic consequences down the line. Jesse Pinkman opting to kill Gale at the end of Breaking Bad Season 3 is an example of this. The character had to wrestle the emotions of murdering an innocent man in order to save his own skin.

There have been some Memorable Gambling Scenes in TV Series
When TV writers want to up the ante in a more obvious way, they often send their characters to the casino. Here, they tend to play well-known games that viewers can relate to. With the rise of online gambling, more people are familiar with the rules of table games like roulette and blackjack, along with slot machines. When it comes to thinking of the most memorable gambling scenes that have been in a fictional TV series, there are quite a few strong moments to choose from.

Fans of Friends will fondly remember “The One in Vegas,” which was the double-length finale to Season 5. There were a lot of gambling scenes throughout the episode, but the most iconic was when Monica was on a run of good fortune at the craps table. Chandler joins her at the table and shouts out various promises to the crowd if she wins, such as that they will buy everyone a round of drinks. He eventually says they’ll get married if she rolls a hard eight, and she does.

Another hilarious gambling scene featured in the British sitcom, Peep Show. The protagonists decide to host a poker night because Mark believes that it is a manly pastime, and he wants to impress Sophie’s new boyfriend, Jeff. Mark doesn’t want to take any risks so folds at every opportunity, while Jez doesn’t know how to play the game but manages to bluff his way through.

Along with fictional series, many viewers will look back with delight on occasions in reality TV shows when people have gambled. There have been a few times in Deal or No Deal when players have been left with a choice between gambling the Banker’s deal to see if they can win the jackpot. Who Wants to be a Millionaire is also renowned for putting players in some tough spots as they aim to take down the ultimate prize.

Gambling is a Great Format for Game Shows
The developers of some of the most popular game shows ever invented have taken elements from gambling in order to create an exciting experience for viewers. Deal or No Deal, mentioned above, is one of the prime examples of a format in which players are constantly required to gamble. The original show was a Dutch offering called Miljoenenjacht, which means Hunt for Money. The 26 box format with regular monetary offers from a banker went on to be used in over forty different countries, including Canada in 2007.

The thrilling aspect of Deal or No Deal is the fact that players are constantly put into a position in which they could potentially lose or gain a lot money. In Canada, Cash Cab is one of the longest-running and most popular game shows. The Discovery Channel show presented by Adam Growe has been on air since 2008 and gives players the chance to gamble frequently with double or nothing questions. It seems that the easy to understand concept of gambling is one that translates perfectly to game show audiences.

Gambling is a common theme for TV series and game shows because it’s something that most viewers can relate to. While not everyone likes to gamble, they may enjoy the thrill of living these tough decisions vicariously through characters or contestants.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.