If you were watching American television between 1979 and 1980, you might have heard of a little game show called “Three’s a Crowd,” whose tagline was “Who knows a man better: his wife or his secretary?” The implication was always that the men were sleeping with their secretaries.
Hosted by Jim Peck and packaged by Chuck Barris productions, the gameshow involved three sets of husband-wife-secretary teams who would compare their answers to questions that usually lead to potential marital discord. For example, “How many times have you been to your secretary’s home?”. It makes for some pretty awkward viewing, and I’m not just talking about the polyester suits.
Here two episodes uploaded to Youtube to see for yourself:
I was really rooting for Steve and his three-piece brown Burberry suit in this one ↑.
Of course “Three’s a Crowd” received backlash and national women’s organisations protested against the show. Ratings for his other shows on air quickly plummeted and all five of his shows were removed from the air by the start of the next television season. He went into hiding at his house in Malibu for a year and in his autobiography, Barris expresses his regret in seeing the lack of fun some of the contestants seemed to be having on it.
Case in point, couple number three in this episode:
The game show was ranked at number 94 in the book What Were They Thinking?: The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History. Author David Hofstede wrote that it “offered the chance to watch a marriage dissolve on camera years before Jerry Springer“.
Is this the first reality television cat fight? ↓
It would be another decade before the world would be ready for Jerry.