The Newlywed Game is the Game Show that sent Bob Eubanks to stardom. This Chuck Barris production debuted in 1966 on ABC, coinciding with a pre-emption of CBS' then-popular Password. Four couples, all married for less than two years, answered questions that bordered on the bawdy. In the first round, the wives predicted their husbands' answers, and the second round reversed the roles.
Some modern viewers know the show best for Eubanks' supposedly Unusual Euphemism for sexual intercourse, "whoopie". This impression is probably due to modern viewers' Small Reference Pools, since the euphemism was very well-known in the 1970s — it comes from a 1920s pop tune that was covered more than 300 times between 1930 and 1975. It was only when the popularity of the euphemism faded in the 1980s that Eubanks' use of it became notable.
At the end of the show, the couple with the most points won a prize that had been selected just for them. In truth, each Newlywed Game couple declared in advance which prize they wanted to win, and each episode featured four couples who had chosen the same prize. (It was never a car.)
Carnie Wilson was the original host of the GSN revival, which debuted in 2009 and reduced the competing couples to three; she was replaced by The View's Sherri Shepherd in 2010. It was announced in September 2009 that the show would start featuring same-sex couples. Among its roster have been celebrities such as George Takei of Star Trek, Davy Jones of The Monkees, and Christopher Knight of The Brady Bunch. This version ran until 2013.
This show provides examples of:
- The Announcer: Scott Beach announced on the earliest episodes, followed by Johnny Jacobs, and finally Tony McClay. Rod Roddy announced on the 1984 version, followed by Bob Hilton for part of the 1985-89 version and Charlie O'Donnell for at least the latter part of the same era. Los Angeles DJ "Ellen K." announced the 1996 version, followed by John Cramer from 1997-99. The 2000s version was announced by Brad Aldous, then Randy West, then Gary Kroeger.
- Bonus Round: The 25-point Bonus Question during the classic Eubanks years (originally 35 points; the 2009 revival also features two-part questions worth 15 points each). There was also a bonus round for Season 1 of the GSN version, where the winning couple faced off against a "Goldywed" couple for an extra prize.
- Comically Missing the Point: Led to the most famous answer in the show's history and one of the most famous moments in any American game show. The question: "What's the weirdest place you've ever had the urge to make whoopie?" to which a husband named Hank responded, "On the freeway" (which got laughs and remarks from Bob). No one was prepared for what Hank's wife, Olga, would answer: "In the ass" (with the profanity bleeped). Cue the uproarious laughter and Bob trying to clarify the question (a location, not a body part), but Olga persisted wth her answer.
- For years, Bob (as well as producer Chuck Barris) denied that the incident had occurred, leading to speculation that it was all an Urban Legend, and others insisting that a wildly different version of the incident (the answer always involving a synonym or euphemism for sodomy) had taken place, and had either aired or never made it to air (the offending question replaced and the second round re-taped). Finally, during a 2002 game show bloopers special, Bob finally admitted that the incident took place and provided the footage. Incidentally, the episode featuring the "in the ass" response — a 1977 "maternity day" episode — had aired several times on Game Show Network (GSN). (And for what it's worth — Hank and Olga won the episode, and took home nursery furniture, a set of encyclopedias and a washer-dryer.). See Snopes article here.
- Crossover: Crossed over with The Dating Game in the 1990s.
- Dark Horse Victory: The 1979 episode featuring (amongst three other couples) Charlie and Pat Berg, whose mannerisms, voices, appearances, and infighting gave them the lasting label of being the real life Archie and Edith Bunker. The couple were hilariously bad at matching one another, and failed to score a single match during the first and second rounds of the game; they were quickly relegated to a role of reliable comic relief. However, in the final round, the Bergs were the only couple to match on the 25 point bonus question...allowing them to win the overall game by 5 points.
- A Day in the Limelight: Played with on a 1978 episode where announcer Tony McClay walked out at the top of the show and began to carry on with the show as if Bob were absent — until Bob walked out and tapped Tony on the shoulder.
- "Die Hard" on an X: The NBC game I'm Telling! was basically The Newlywed Game for kids.
- The ESPN game Teammates was The Newlywed Game for professional athletes.
- And The Neighbors was The Newlywed Game for... female neighbors.
- Double the Dollars: In a way with Round 2, where questions were worth 10 points
- Early-Installment Weirdness: In 1966, an era where virtually every new network show was debuting in color, the very earliest episodes of The Newlywed Game aired in black-and-white. Also, a different theme was used for those first few weeks of episodes: "Summertime Guy" by Eddie Rambeau. Also, ABC staff announcer Scott Beach was the first announcer. The latter two changed by the start of August 1966: A different theme, based on "Summertime Guy" but reminiscent of a Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass song, and the introduction of Johnny Jacobs as announcer. As no videos from those earliest shows exist, it is hard to say what other differences there were or what couples got away with.
- Failure Is the Only Option: A lot of questions seemed to be written intentionally to get a husband and wife to have a fight before bed that night. It became a running gag among the fandom of just how many couples who appeared on the show didn't make it past those two years.
- To give an example, any question about the wife's body shape, which one of her family members the husband would want to have an affair with, which of her friends he'd most like to disappear, etc. On the other end, a Sherry-era question asked wives through pizza euphemism to describe their husband's endowment: medium mushroom, large pepperoni, or extra-large sausage. Naturally all the husbands said extra-large sausage, and two of them got it right, but one wife said "medium mushroom" because "We don't allow pork in our house."
- Freudian Slip: At least twice, Bob said "25 point boner question" instead of "bonus."
- Game Show Host: Bob Eubanks is the best known. Jim Lange hosted a week-long attempt in 1984, Paul Rodriguez for part of the 1988-89 season, and Gary Kroeger for the 1996-97 season. Carnie Wilson was the original host of the GSN version, followed by Sherri Shepherd.
- Have a Gay Old Time: A question asked of the women in the "Bunker" episode was "My husband is a closet ____". Made even better when Pat Berg — a sedate, conservative lady in her 50s who looked a whole lot like Edith Bunker — replied "queen".
- Porn Stache: Tony McClay had a pretty serious one.
- Rearrange the Song: The Bob Eubanks-hosted revivals from the '80s and '90s (excepting the last season of the latter) had new arrangements of the original theme, as did the first four seasons of the GSN version. The latter two arrangements were pretty close to the original, while the '80s version was more noticeably different.
- Replaced the Theme Tune: The Rodriguez version, as mentioned right above. The Gary Kroeger version, the second '90s Eubanks season, and Sherri Shepherd's latter two seasons also had completely different theme songs.
- Shout-Out: When he appeared on The Hollywood Squares in 2003, Eubanks was given the question, "Married couples spend an average of 800 hours doing what?" and answered with "I was going to say making whoopie, but she's no longer on the show, is she?"
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Something that's helped some contestants. For example, one notorious moment had both a woman and her husband answer that the husband's mother had lived ten decades.
- Theme Tune
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The original theme was composed by creator Chuck Barris.
- Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: It's an instrumental arrangement of "Summertime Guy". Eddie Rambeau was to have sung it on American Bandstand but was told he couldn't because Barris was then working for ABC.
- Instrumental Theme Tune: As you'd typically expect from a Game Show. Averted on the short-lived Paul Rodriguez version (see the Real Song Theme Tune entry below).
- Unusual Euphemism: "Whoopie".