TV Review: ABC’s “Claim to Fame” Sticks With a Winning Formula But Adds Some Twists for Season 3 Premiere

When ABC’s Claim to Fame debuted in 2022, I didn’t think much of it. After all, I’m not a big reality show guy and so there seemed like little reason to change that. However, after reading my friend and colleague Mike Mack’s review of the show, I decided to give it a shot… and absolutely loved it. That continued into season two — which, in some ways, even improved on the first while retaining what I enjoyed most about it. Now, the show is set to return for a third season and I’m excited to say that it looks like we’re in for another delightful treat.

Season 3 of Claim to Fame is once again hosted by Kevin and Franklin Jonas (perfect choices, IMHO) and finds 11 contestants competing for a chance to win $100,000. If you’re not familiar with the show, the concept is that each entrant has a celebrity relative that they must keep secret while trying to determine who the other people in the house are related to. At the end of each episode, one person is voted to be the guesser. Should that person correctly guess who their target’s celeb connection is, they stay and the target goes. But, if they miss, their “claim to fame” is exposed and their time in the house is over.

This season happens to kick off as the last two do: with a game of Two Truths and a Lie. If you’re a Claim to Fame aficionado like I am, you’ll know that a well-placed fib in this inaugural activity can actually carry you pretty far in the competition. Therefore, the stakes are high even before the contestants walk through the door of the Hollywood Hills home where they’ll (hopefully) be staying for the next few weeks.

In Season 1, we learned the identities of a few celeb relatives upfront — presumably so they could hook viewers by confirming, yes, these are people you’ve heard of! Season 2 cut back on that, which I think was a good move overall. That strategy continues with this first episode of Season 3 as there are no outright reveals (aside from the person being eliminated). Personally, I love this approach as my wife and I enjoy playing along at home and figuring out as many of the connections for ourselves as we can.

Another one of the show’s staple challenges also returns to start Season 3: the Claim to Fame talent show. However, this time around, there is a bit of a twist. I won’t reveal what that is but, after the competition, we know who has immunity this week and who’s in the bottom two. This leaves us the rest of the episode’s run time to see the bottom two contestants solicit for votes (or non-votes, as it were) and gather any clues they can — including from the returning Clue Wall.

One of the things I really loved about the first two seasons of Claim to Fame is that, while there may have been a dust up or two, it felt as though the contestants all got along and supported each other even though they were ultimately competing. For the most part, that vibe continues in Season 3, even if there may be a little bit of bitterness brewing. Hopefully, this distaste will pass as I do think the camaraderie in the house is to the show’s benefit and sets it apart from the more drama-filled products in its genre.

Obviously I won’t disclose who is eliminated or who they are related to — but I will note that it seems as though this year will feature even more personal messages from the celebrities to their relatives. This was an element introduced last season, but not quite everyone had one and they were typically played after a photo of the claim to fame was shown. In this case, the message started playing right after the countdown. Granted, with there only being one episode so far, it’s hard to tell whether this is an intentional format change or a one-off, but I like it either way.

Returning to Claim to Fame was an absolute joy. Soon after the show started, I realized that a smile had taken over my face and it didn’t depart until the credits rolled. In a word (or two), the show is just pure fun. While I now have a decent idea of who at least one person in the house is related to, the rest are still up in the air for me — although, time will tell whether this episode features one of the biggest slip ups in Claim to Fame history or the biggest red herring ever. Either way, I’m thrilled that this show is back and can’t wait to watch it week after week.

Claim to Fame Season 3 airs on ABC starting July 10th and can be streamed the next day on Hulu.

Kyle Burbank
Kyle is a writer living in Springfield, MO. His deep love of Disney and other pop culture finds its way into several aspects of his life and work. In addition to his position at LP, he's also the head writer for as well as his own personal finance site