Creator of extreme musical chairs show explains himself: 'No one should take it seriously'

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Image Credit: Greg Gayne/The CW

Phil Gurin, creator and executive producer of The CW’s Oh Sit!, knows there’s something inherently goofy about a game show that revolves around an extreme game of Musical Chairs. But according to him, that’s kind of the point: “We absolutely don’t take the show seriously. Nobody should,” Gurin explained in an interview this afternoon. “It’s meant to be pure fun.”

And Oh Sit! is fun, in an over-the-top, Wipeout meets Guts meets an elementary school classroom sort of way. (Its resemblance to classic Nickelodeon game shows is no accident; Gurin once worked as a writer on both Double Dare and Wild and Crazy Kids.) The rules are fairly straightforward: Music plays as contestants navigate a circular obstacle course, nabbing cash each time they pass one of several green lines. When the live band stops playing, players must scramble for a seat on “chair island,” which stands in the middle of the arena.

Gurin and his team were careful not to let their creation get too complicated. “The most successful game shows of all time are always the simplest,” he said. “Listen, Wheel of Fortune is Hangman. Hollywood Squares was Tic-tac-toe.” By riffing on a childhood classic, Oh Sit! engages a similar strategy: “There is not one country where they don’t play musical chairs,” Gurin declared.

And like its competitive cousins, Oh Sit! isn’t afraid to embrace its silly side.  Before play begins, opponents are tagged with cheeky nicknames like Crossdresser or McPushy Pants. As they climb up giant foam wedges and fall into pools of icy water, hosts Jamie Kennedy and Jessi Cruikshank provide quip-filled color commentary. (After one hirsute competitor plunges into a moat in Episode One, Cruikshank exclaims, “That bridge hates beards!”)

Gurin is proud of the show’s sardonic sense of humor. “We definitely labor over the tone,” he said. “We’re definitely trying to craft a show that is a little smart, a little funny, a little fresh, definitely [has] a little attitude.”

And though the show’s premise may inspire a few eye-rolls, Gurin doesn’t mind criticism: “Every comment is fair.” But if Oh Sit!‘s opponents end up tuning in, they may find that it’s difficult to make fun of a show that’s constantly making fun of itself. “If I was pontificating on, ‘oh, Oh Sit is this classic combination of this, that, and the other,’ you’d think I was full of s—,” Gurin says, not using the euphemism that appears in his series’ title. “It’s all meant to be a wink. When our contestants are earning their money, we put them up on our leader board, which we call the Sit List. You know? And hopefully, we ride the line and don’t go over it too much.”

If all goes well, Oh Sit! won’t be the only playground-inspired game show produced by Gurin’s company. He’s mum on the details of the other series he’s developing, though; instead, Gurin just wants to encourage audiences to give his new venture a chance. “It’s not what you think it is,” he said shortly before hanging up. “So you should tune in and make your own judgments.”

Oh Sit premieres tonight on The CW at 8pm ET.

Follow Hillary on Twitter: @hillibusterr

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