This week, ABC will debut its newest game show: Generation Gap. Hosted by Kelly Ripa, the premise of the show is simple: two teams made up of two members of differing generations (think a grandparent and their grandchild) test their knowledge of each other’s pop culture, technology, and more. For example, the older adults may be questioned about TikTok while their younger counterparts might be asked about fax machines. Eventually, the team who answers the most questions correctly and wins the most money is crowned the winner.
Generation Gap is actually based on a Jimmy Kimmel Live segment. However, while those JKL segments may have been 10 minutes or so, this new show fills an hour timeslot, amounting to 44 minutes of content. As a result, while the show tries to mix it up with different segments, celebrity cameos, and fun ideas (such as Kelly Ripa’s dad performing Shatner-esque renditions of pop songs), few of these elements do much to really shake up a show that really is just repeating the same gags. It all boils down to “Teehee, things are different now” or “Kids today…” or, of course, “Okay, Boomer.”
What’s more, heading into the show, I assumed that — akin to some other ABC game shows such as Celebrity Family Feud, The $100,000 Pyramid, etc. — Generation Gap’s hour-long runtime would be divided amongst two full games. Alas, that’s not the case as the set of contestants stick around the whole time. In my view, the format easily could have been boiled down and paced up, but what do I know?
With that said, I was impressed with the contestants the show found for the premiere episode. In fact, considering that both of the adult players had fascinating backgrounds, I wish their stories would have been revealed earlier in the episode.
While I’m nitpicking, I was also curious about some of the questions the show asks. Perhaps it’s intentional but I did find it interesting that some of the topics seemed to feature properties popular in between the two generational sweetspots. Again, this may have been a deliberate choice — or further shows the impact of reboot culture — but I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow a couple of times.
As for positives, I will say that I loved playing along with the game. Perhaps it’s because my age does fall somewhere between the two generations on display but I knew the answers to at least a majority of the questions (which always makes you feel smart, doesn’t it?). Then again, some did seem remarkably easy — especially during the celebrity guest segment.
Finally, as you may have seen teased on commercials, there’s a round that involves a toddler getting to choose which prize the winning team will go home with — either an expensive one the adults would want or a presumably less pricey one meant to bait the instincts of the child making the decision. I suppose this dichotomy fits the overall theme of the show, but it does feel disconnected in the moment. Plus, once again, I can’t imagine this bit being terribly entertaining after the first time or two.
Overall, while I may sound harsh in my critiques, I do think that Generation Gap is an enjoyable program that fits nicely into a summer TV lineup. But will it become a classic in the vein of the many game shows that ABC has resurrected in recent years? I wouldn’t bet on it. Still, if you’re looking for something to watch with the family, you can definitely do worse than Generation Gap.
I give Generation Gap 2.5 out of 5 antiquated tech machines.
Generation Gap premieres Thursday, July 7th on ABC and will be available to stream the following day on Hulu.