Skip to Content
reality TV reviews, news, and analysis since 2000

Weakest Link is definitely the weakest network game show, despite Jane Lynch’s hosting

Weakest Link is definitely the weakest network game show, despite Jane Lynch’s hosting
Jane Lynch on the first episode of NBC's Weakest Link reboot. (Photo by Chris Haston/NBC)

When The Weakest Link premiered in 2001, it was a year after Survivor brought voting off to the lexicon and a year before American Idol brought a surprisingly acerbic British judge to American television. It combined the two, adding a voting mechanism to a game show and a surprisingly cruel host, Anne Robinson.

Jane Lynch, the host of NBC’s new reboot of The Weakest Link, is not Anne Robinson, thankfully. But she’s also not the joyful host of Hollywood Game Night that I love so much. She has some scripted jokes and an occasional opportunity to show her wit, but it all just kind of bounced off the walls of the empty set.

There was very little opportunity for Jane Lynch to improvise, responding in the moment to what was happening, though she did have a few good quips. On Hollywood Game Night, she’s often reading off a prompter, but she has more to do; the wider variety of games helps, but that format gives more opportunities for her strengths to show through.

My favorite lines were the (scripted) questions she asked as the contestants started to vote: “Whose pinky and their brain are both the same size? Who thinks Fauci is a type of pasta?” That’s the closest she got to ridiculing contestants, and of course it wasn’t targeted at anyone specifically. That’s the kind of light-heartedness I wanted more of.

Perhaps it was the first round of players, who didn’t do all that well with trivia—banking $0 in round two—and seemed rather frightened to be there, especially at first. Or perhaps it’s the lack of a live audience (I’m glad there is no audience, because the show filmed this summer), though it is doing the thing too many shows are doing, which is using a laugh track to pretend that there is an audience. It’s hard to play off an empty room.

Jane Lynch, host of The Weakest Link
Jane Lynch, host of The Weakest Link (Photo by Chris Haston/NBC)

The one thing The Weakest Link has going for it speed: it’s just non-stop trivia questions. The voting goes quickly; unlike Sing On!, there aren’t long, drawn-out explanations, just vote reveals and then the famous “You are The Weakest Link, goodbye.” The exit interview is played overtop footage of the player leaving the set, so it’s all very quick.

The accompanying visuals are bizarre, though, and just really strange choices: the camera’s movement between contestants is fast-forwarded, so it’s quite disorienting and visually messy.

But so is the entire set. The redesigned contestant podiums have curved LCD screens with the players’ names, and they appear blurry from both a distance and up close. Along with the blurry blobs of light flashing in the background, all of these graphics manage to make it look like it’s a 2000s-era standard definition show. Only the people are crisp and in high definition.

It’s a perfectly competent and bizarrely flat adaptation. Perhaps I’m used to the nostalgia-soaked game show reboots on ABC, which bring back the flavor of the original, right down to the shag carpeting on Match Game’s set. But they also bring a lot of playfulness.

That’s not The Weakest Link’s thing—after all, it’s a game show where players get voted out for being terrible—though there are moments that suggest what it could have been: lighter, less serious.

If you want a lot of trivia questions, it’s perfectly serviceable. By not being as cruel as the Anne Robinson version but also not as silly and joyous as ABC’s classic game shows, it’s found a bland middle of the road, where it’s easily the prime-time network game show that I’d vote off TV before any others.

The Weakest Link: C

All reality blurred content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.

More from reality blurred

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

I think of writing about television as the start of a conversation, and I value your contributions to that conversation. We’ve created a community that connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

To share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space, I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to those rules.

Happy discussing!

Debra smith

Tuesday 12th of April 2022

I love the game show the weakest link. I think the host is wonderful, she’s sarcastic, funny I like the way she does things she is by all means the greatest game show host


Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Jane Lynch rocks.