Netflix’s Newest Game Show Is The Hardest Ever

It was inevitable Netflix would step into the reality game show market since mainstream TV still cleans up with these longstanding concepts. When you see ABC, CBS, and NBC saying their reality shows are going into double digit seasons, you can see why Netflix didn’t refrain from going there.

Plus, with game shows having a new renaissance, there isn’t any surprise Netflix created one with an extreme reality twist. Called Awake, this game show sleep deprives their contestants for 24 hours. If you can complete this challenge successfully, you could win one million dollars.

With shows like America’s Got Talent putting contestants through hell for one million as well, let’s all ponder together whether these prizes should be higher.

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The Netflix logo | ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP/Getty Images

Is ‘Awake’ the show you should be watching on Netflix?

According to many critics, Awake: The Million Dollar Game is worth a watch if you like to see physical and mental challenges imposed on players. Considering it’s the first stunt-oriented game show Netflix ever concocted, it’s fun to take a look at a genre we’ll likely see repeated there numerous times.

The concept of this show isn’t necessarily original on sleep deprivation. We’ve seen similar scenarios on Survivor and Big Brother alone. What makes Awake different is the stunts the contestants have to pull off to have any chance at winning $1 million.

One of the most noteworthy is a sequence where players have to count a large pile of quarters after not having any sleep for a full day. As you might guess, not many can do it well.

What makes the show even more unusual is the contestants aren’t pitted against each other like lions in a cage. They all seem to support one another, making it a slight bit of heaven while stuck in a reality game show hell.

Other physical challenges are fairly benign

Unlike Survivor that puts contestants through physical torture sometimes, the stunts used on Awake are fairly innocuous. Nevertheless, when you’re sleep deprived, most of these are impossible to do.

Some other stunts involved as contestants progress involve threading needles and catching balloons filled with money. Along the way, there’s a level of “payouts” contestants can take if they simply can’t handle the lack of sleep any further.

Each game eventually whittles down to a final two since most don’t make it to the end. Even then, though, there’s always a risk of contestants going home with nothing after all the pain involved.

Will the show continue to have players, or will it turn into one of those reality shows becoming more purposeful to lose than win?

The show might wear out its welcome, unless used as a promotional tool

Not all critics are kind to Awake, mostly because they think it’s far too boring to succeed long-term. One thing for sure is if it’s just more of a social experiment, then those who sign on as contestants may use the show strictly to promote themselves rather than worry about winning money.

There isn’t a more noticeable trend in the reality show universe than participants signing on merely to get themselves into the limelight. Shows like American Idol and even America’s Got Talent are now places to show off your talents and likely land a deal later if you’re voted off.

Awake may turn into the Netflix equivalent of this since we know streaming is now gaining more viewers than the mainstream networks.

We say Netflix could arguably do better on creating more meaningful reality game shows. Playing to lose, though, is definitely the type of game America is playing on all reality shows without the shows always realizing it.