If you’re a college grad struggling under the weight of student loan debt, TruTV has a game show made with you in mind. It’s called Paid Off and it’s a new quiz show that promises to pay off the student debt of its winners.
Contestants play by answering a series of trivia at various levels of difficulty. The winner of the first round then advances to a “speed round” and wins money towards their loan repayment based on how many questions he/she can answer in the allotted time.
TV programs like The Ellen Degeneres Show have had segments where people could compete to have debts repaid but a whole game show for student loans is a novelty that’s, unfortunately, a sign of the times.
The show is hosted by Michael Torpey, who you may recognize as Thomas Humphrey, the prison guard bad guy from Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black. He’s also acted on TV shows like Veep and Inside Amy Schumer.
But the actor isn’t just the host, he came up with the idea.
“One of the mantras is ‘an absurd show to match an absurd crisis,'” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “A game show feels really apt because this is the state of things right now.”
As Torpey points out, the fact that this show exists is just a testament to how deep the American student debt crisis has become. According to The Washington Post, Americans owe more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. The average amount owed by each American with loans for higher education is close to $40,000.
Michael Torpey (@torpeymichael)'s new game show on @TruTV gets both political and personal while aiming to bring awareness to the student debt crisis, writes @helloannieblack https://t.co/a235YMz7Iw pic.twitter.com/NWTJ2Ax789
— Paste Magazine (@PasteMagazine) July 9, 2018
The majority of the contestants on Paid Off are in their 20s and 30s. The Washington Post reports that the winners will be paid directly. So whether they use the money toward paying off their loans or a trip to the Bahamas is entirely up to them. The producers reportedly tried to find a way to pay the money to the financial institutions that issued the loans but found that the red tape involved was insurmountable.
While the show is supposed to be “fun,” it doesn’t shy away from the fact that it’s a game-show about a very real problem, the Post adds. We can expect things to get a little political and a “depressing fact of the week” from Torpey during each episode.
Like millions of other Americans, Torpey says that his life has been negatively impacted by the strain of student debt. But it wasn’t his. The actor’s wife had accumulated loans from her undergraduate studies and he was only able to help her pay it off when he booked his first underwear ad. That underwear ad not only helped help them pay off her loans but also allowed them to start building a future together.
Paid Off on TruTV premiers on July 12. See below for a clip of what you can expect to see.