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Show Off

If The Show is a serio-comic satire, then it’s a failure. If The Show is a dramatic tear down of reality television’s dwindling standards, it’s also a failure.

There’s almost too much to The Show. Josh Duhamel stars, a TV host playing to controversy after his Bachelor knock-off’s finale becomes a live murder and suicide. This spins-off into an actual suicide show – “This is Your Death” – complete cheering live audiences and contestants killing themselves for causes/cash.

That’s the televised commentary. Underneath lies ambient dialog about a divided nation, pointlessly attempting to link “This is Your Death” to modern political chatter. The two ideas never join. Radio hosts discuss division and social media, but that’s the extent. There’s a janitor, played by Giancarlo Esposito, battered by the recession. His skirting by, the middle class existence is The Show’s empathetic center, a shoe-in as a “This is Your Death” contestant.

In the overarching story, The Show snarls at capitalist opportunists, feeding off the growing wage disparity, economic anxiety, and those offering promises of escape. In this case, escape is permanent. Whenever The Show tries to engage on those terms, it’s a rapid fall. Tonality isn’t there. The suicides play live, terribly uncomfortable even in this fictional realm. Its ideas of suicide and mental health are gratingly crass and insincere. The plausibility of a smiling audience as people step up to their death is questionable, even in the most perverted of societies.

Its ideas of suicide and mental health are gratingly crass and insincere

The Show is too ridiculous not to be satire. Yet, the conversations and conventional characters play this straight. Only the live studio audience pinches the absurdity. While not as colorful or fantastic as something like Running Man, end results won’t change – everyone who plays, dies. The difference is Running Man’s patent absurdity. The Show stews about in continuing discomfort, and never with a wink.

Embedded in The Show’s idea(s) are possibilities. This concept of Americans treating money as a cure all, their lives having no physical value, is harsh commentary. The ratings grab and desperate producers? Also a sharpened look at monetary value over human life; the cold-hearted exploitation is striking. But inserted here, with unironic TV-level production values and distant performances, The Show isn’t going to capitalize on any this. All The Show succeeds with is making itself vulgar and tasteless. No one walks away from the The Show with anything other than its gory spectacle. It is what it protests.


With a pallid appearance, Lionsgate’s Blu-ray for The Show struggles to find depth. There’s a lack of contrast throughout, dimming black levels to gray and holding back highlights. Even in a studio setting with spotlights shining down onto Duhamel, there’s a lack of oomph.

Generally natural color peeks out. Flesh tones look clean. A spot of bright primaries on occasion give The Show something to be proud of visually.

If nothing else, there’s resolution. Pure close-ups pull out substantial definition. Thank the bland cinematography, on-par with broadcast TV, for the sharpness. There’s no attempt to employ filters or anything less than total sharpness. A few shots of Los Angeles’ skylines add to the detail-rich presentation.


Employing a DTS-HD 5.1 track and then ignoring the surrounds entirely, The Show exists entirely in the front soundstage. Despite studio audiences and adoring crowds, their cheers only make it into the stereos. The same with the score, the only element that catches in the subwoofer.

Dialog in the first act, particularly from Famke Janssen, does introduce a scratchiness. It’s quick to pass.


Six short cast/crew interviews open things, followed by a generic 12-minute Making The Show featurette. That’s it.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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The Show wants to make a statement on a multitude of topics, but the message is sunk by a consistent tide of tonal problems.

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