Contestants struggling with student debt now have the chance to get those loans paid off thanks to the new gameshow "Paid Off."
Game shows have always offered a certain appeal to viewers. A contestant on “Wheel of Fortune” or “The Price Is Right” could win money, fancy household appliances, nice cars, and even vacations. But in a strange twist, a new game show from TruTV offers contestants a chance to pay off their student loans.
The show is called “Paid Off” and it airs on Tuesdays. The actor Michael Torpey, who pitched the idea for the show to TruTV, will be starring as the host. He acknowledges the irony of creating a trivia show around such a sobering topic.
"We're playing in a weird space of dark comedy,” Torpey said, according to NBC News.
Torpey said the idea for the show came to him after seeing the pain his wife went through when she was paying back her student loans. He recognized the burden and sense of shame debt creates for many borrowers. Torpey said he hopes “Paid Off” will help remove some of the stigma associated with student loan debt.
The format of the show is simple; three contestants will compete by answering a number of trivia questions. Of course, some student loan debt is a prerequisite to competing. If the contestants answer enough questions correctly, the show will pay back up to 100 percent of their student loans.
Although it aims to be a light-hearted game show, Torpey says he hopes the show will provide an honest look at the problem of student loan debt.
"I want to be very respectful of the folks who come on our show, who opened their hearts and shared their struggles with us," he added.
To make that happen, TruTV consulted with the nonprofit group Student Debt Crisis. The network wanted to ensure that the show would be empathetic to Americans still struggling to pay back their student loans. The show will give viewers tips and encourage them to contact their representatives.
Though skeptics have argued that the premise of the show is insensitive and makes light of a serious issue, TruTV has brushed off these criticisms. Lesley Goldman, the senior vice president of development at TruTV, says that show aims to reveal the absurdity of the student loan crisis.
Torpey is hopeful about “Paid Off” but admits that it won’t fix the real problem. “We helped four people pay off their student debt today, but there are 45 million Americans out there struggling with their student loans,” he said.
In the meantime, people who aren’t lucky enough to be contestants on this show can look into other ways to ease their repayment burden. Enrolling in income-driven repayment plans or refinancing and consolidating student loans can help lower your monthly student loan payment.