'Supermarket Sweep' is Awful And I Can't Stop Watching

By Stephen Douglas
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Supermarket Sweep was recently added to Netflix, in the form of a 15-episode collection from the show's early 90's heyday. I had never seen a single episode of the show, but I have now watched five episodes and I have seen more than enough to judge the entirety of this series.

I am blown away by how bland and exciting this 20-minute grocery commercial can be. It's like Family Feud and Double Dare had a baby and it was only product placement combined with the most mundane physical challenges imaginable. And yet it is just impossible to look away.

It's hard to pick a favorite part of the show's formula, but it's definitely the collared sweatshirt that the contestants wear during the sweep. They're like a bunch of Beverly Goldberg's who gave up on life. I don't know if each contestant got to keep the one they wore or they were recycled for each taping. God, that would be a great couples costume this year if we have Halloween. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a screengrab I took of Ricki and Rhonda Muffy.

Rhonda Muffy.
Rhonda Muffy.

Is Muffy their last name? I don't think so! The host just added "Muffy" onto Rhonda's name halfway through the show and it stuck. That's just how it was back in the 90's when only women could use grocery stores.

Supermarket Sweep was either super sexist or men literally refused to shop or go on shopping-related game shows. Out of the five episodes I have seen so far, 26 of the 30 contestants have been women. And most of them were mothers who worked part-time. And I'm not saying that's not incredible. I hope we've all learned over the last few months that primary caregiver is a full-time job that deserves... something! (It's like paying college athletes, I know it should happen, but I don't have any idea how that would work.) Anyway, my point is that one of the women called herself a "domestic engineer," and to quote David Rose, I feel like that needs to be celebrated.

Speaking of celebrating... how about all the clapping? All the contestants clapped incessantly. They happily cheered every single thing that every person on set did, no matter how it affected their shot at winning the $5,000 prize. Yes, $5,000. The most money ever. I think the kids on Nick Arcade got bigger prizes.

Supermarket Sweep contestants all dressed up.
Supermarket Sweep contestants all dressed up.

Speaking of segues, I need to talk about what happened during the fourth episode of the collection. Going into the last commercial break, host David Ruprecht says, "Please stick around," and then they just show the contestants putting their groceries on the scanners for a full 50 seconds while bumper music plays. It was an eternity. It is jarring after about 30 seconds. You start to wonder if you have been transported back to the live studio audience. You're waiting for a commercial that never comes while you peek behind the curtain that is... people putting their groceries on the conveyor belt. It's like you're waiting in line at an actual grocery store. This is a fully immersive entertainment experience! And it goes on and on and finally after nearly a full minute, you snap back to reality. You're watching Netflix. What must people have thought when the episode originally aired? It must have been like the ending of the Sopranos, but with more groceries.

You may remember I mentioned finales earlier so let's go back to the start of this post. Here's the picture I used for the feature image.

That's host David Ruprecht with his pal, Rhonda Muffy. As you can see, Ruprecht has a stain on his shirt. It's there for the entire episode. Why did no one stop this? I can't tell if this is why this episode was picked to be streamed or if it's because the episode was won by two college dudes. But it has to be the stain. Why did no one stop the taping to have him change his shirt? What kind of tight schedule were they on where they didn't have time to change the host's shirt? Did they not have a spare? Is this why all the contestants wore the same ugly late 80's collar sweatshirts? Or were they worried all the domestic engineers watching at home would be so jarred by a shirt changing color during the middle of an episode that they would stop applying to be on the show?

We may get answers to all these questions if ABC is able to film their Leslie Jones-hosted reboot at some point. In the meantime, fans can just keep watching and hope Netflix gets the rights to more episodes. I need to know if there are more stains. [CLAPS]

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