New game show seeks to raise awareness of student debt crisis

Calling it “an absurd show to match an absurd crisis,” comedian Michael Torpey has created a new game show in which contestants test their knowledge in order to win money toward reducing their college loan debt. Depending on the number of trivia questions they answer correctly, contestants can pay off their student loans in full on “Paid Off,” which premiered on cable network TruTV this week.

TruTV, which according to The Washington Post often targets viewers age 35 and under, bought the show to appeal to the 44 million Americans who hold student debt, especially millennials who tend to vote on this issue. Contestants in their late 20s and early 30s come on the show and announce their debt burdens, some of which run as high as $50,000. The average American student owes more than $34,000 toward their student loans, a figure that has risen 62 percent in this decade, according to CNBC.

Torpey, who along with his wife, struggled to pay off student loans, mixes informative segments with entertainment. Between rounds, he sprinkles in the news of the week, and at the end of every episode, he makes an appeal to the “Paid Off” viewers’ sense of activism toward addressing the student debt crisis, saying “call your representatives right now and tell them you need a better solution than this game show.”

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