ABC’s ‘Hustler’ is a Great Change in Game Shows

The Hustler

In the sea of prime time game shows, past Celebrity Family Feud and alongside rebrands of wacky competition series like The Masked Dancer, a totally new kind of show has popped up known as The Hustler. Unlike Ellen’s Game of Games, the energy level is a lot lower (though not as low as say Who Wants to Be a Millionaire), the soundstage is not super shiny and while there is plenty of money at stake for those who compete, the show doesn’t focus too much on it.

The Hustler’s set looks like an elaborate rendition of the board game clue, but there isn’t any murder or mayhem here. Just five people trying to figure out which one is lying. The show is hosted by Craig Ferguson, who now my favorite game show host. Unlike the likes of Steve Harvey or Alec Baldwin, his humor is more subtle giving the show a lot more sophistication than you would expect.


The Hustler is clever and you can play along. During each episode, five contestants must collaborate to answer a series of 10 trivia questions which are worth $10,000 each, with the goal of building a collective prize pot that increases with each correct answer. So far, so good. However, one of them, aka “The Hustler”, already knows the answers and each of those are actually inspired by his or her life. This person must keep their identity a secret in order to have a shot at winning the grand prize. Throughout each episode, two contestants are anonymously eliminated by the Hustler, leaving three remaining contestants—the Hustler and two others—who must collectively decide who they think the Hustler is. If the Hustler wins, they will go home with all of the money. If not, the two remaining contestants split the funds and the Hustler goes home with nothing.

I found The Hustler to be a fresh, thought-provoking show. Ferguson is highly entertaining and totally comfortable in this role. Expect the home version to hit store shelves soon (I hope).

The Hustler airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

(Main Image: ABC/Christopher Willard)

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