This ain’t your parents’ spelling bee show.

I admit it: the Scripps National Spelling Bee is my favorite thing on ESPN. But this post isn’t about that.

This morning when I logged into Hulu, it suggested I watch the new show Spell-Mageddon. Since I had plenty of emails to read and respond to that didn’t require complete concentration, I decided I could spare the diversion this time.

Spell-Mageddon is a mix between a spelling bee and an old-school Nickelodeon game show (think Guts, Legends of the Hidden Temple, and Slime Time). Contestants must spell words while being distracted by the likes of spraying foam, flashing lights, and being dunked into ice water. I know under those conditions I would be way too flustered to think clearly. Even though I went to the all-school spelling bee in fourth and fifth grades (I’ll never forget how to spell pigeon after getting out on that one!), I don’t know that I could even spell my name under time pressure with blue liquids flying in my face and an audience cheering in the background.

Don’t be fooled: this show won’t do much for your vocabulary or spelling skills if you’re already a moderately competent adult. The hardest word was schizophrenic–compare that to the 2011 Scripps winner, ¬†cymotrichous (which isn’t even in Google Chrome’s spell check).

That’s not what it’s for, though. Spell-Mageddon is for the entertainment of watching charming characters react to the challenges and look silly while having fun. Sure, it’s low brow humor, but I still appreciate the further mainstreaming of spelling bees. Celebrating intellectualism as cool is cool with me.

And the best part? Carlton Banks–er, I mean, Alfonso Ribeiro is the host.


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