Chuck Barris has died at the age of 87. It’s worth pausing to take note of what we now know was his outsized impact on American society. For one thing, he created and hosted The Gong Show, a talent show in which often talentless performers would perform until one of the celebrity judges sounded a gong. (For those too young to have seen the show, today’s social media is basically The Gong Show without the gong).
He also produced The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. While his shows were accused of lowering the bar, he countered that “Today these shows are accepted. These shows aren’t seen as lowering any bars.”
In his autobiography, he claimed to have been moonlighting as an assassin for the CIA (the agency rejected the claim, though Barris never fully admitted it was a falsehood).
Chuck Barris became famous by basically inventing reality TV, and later became infamous by spreading, and standing by, easily refutable lies. In another life, he could have been president.