Heroes of 2020: Floor Is Lava

In a year with few reasons to leave the couch, the show inspired me to get up—and wreck my furniture.

Mother Jones illustration; Netflix

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Roughly three months into a life concealed indoors, a surprise game show appeared on Netflix’s “Top 10” list.

That show, Floor Is Lava, is billed as such: “Teams compete to navigate rooms flooded with lava by leaping from chairs, hanging from curtains, and swinging from chandeliers. Yes, really.”

Had I read the description in another era, my husband and I likely would have skipped. But this was June and our pandemic diet demanded the dumbest forms of everything. What could be dumber then, and therefore more essential for the moment, than cheering on adults traversing across low-budget sets plastered with absurd graphics to compete in a goofy obstacle course for a cash reward of $10,000? Not much!

It’s far from the best show I watched in 2020; that honor probably belongs to I May Destroy You. It definitely wasn’t the worst; Queen’s Gambit, what a corny disappointment! But years later, send me a screenshot from any Floor Is Lava episode, and I’ll be sure to recall how much wine I overdrank that night and why the dumb came as such a balm against the cascade of despair and horror emanating from outside. I’ll also probably torture you with (very false) claims that I could perform better than the contestants we saw in June.

“Want proof?” I’ll ask. Naturally, you won’t. But I’ll ignore that, whip out this photo from then, back when my husband and I filled evenings taking to our own furniture to try the lava on for size.

Inae Oh

Heroes and Monsters 2020

The staff of Mother Jones is highlighting the year’s heroes and monsters. Find them all here.

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Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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