Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? (U.S. game show)

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This article is about the original series. For versions in other countries, see Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?.
Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?
Smarter than a Fifth Grader small.png
Created by Barry Poznick
John Stevens
Mark Burnett
Directed by Don Weiner
Presented by Jeff Foxworthy
Theme music composer David Vanacore (Vanacore Music) with
Blessed Kateri Children's Choir
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4 (Fox)
2 (Syndication)
No. of episodes 97 (as of September 1, 2015)
Production
Executive producer(s) Mark Burnett
Roy Bank
Barry Poznick
John Stevens
Location(s) CBS Television City
Hollywood, California
Running time 44 minutes (Fox)
22–26 minutes (Syndication)
Production company(s) United Artists Media Group
Zoo Productions
Release
Original channel Fox (2007–09, 2015–present)
Syndication (2009–11)
Original release

Original primetime series:
February 27, 2007 (2007-02-27) - September 18, 2009 (2009-09-18)
Revived primetime series:
May 26, 2015 (2015-05-26) - present

Syndication:
September 21, 2009 (2009-09-21) - March 24, 2011 (2011-03-24)

Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? is an American quiz game show on Fox. It is produced by Mark Burnett[1] and is hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. The show premiered as a three-day special which began on February 27, 2007 with the first two shows each a half-hour in length. Regular one-hour episodes began airing Thursdays from March 1 through May 10,[2] and the first season continued with new episodes beginning May 31. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? was picked up for the 2007–08 season,[3] which began on September 6, 2007, and aired in the same timeslot.[4] Following the end of the original run of the primetime version on September 18, 2009, a first-run syndicated version of the show ran from September 2009 to May 2011, with Foxworthy returning as host.[5] On May 26, 2015, the program returned to Fox for a new, sixth season, with Foxworthy, again, returning as host. The show also airs internationally, and the format has been picked up for local versions in a number of other countries.

5th Grader games are played by a single contestant, who attempts to answer ten questions (plus a final bonus question). Content is taken from elementary school textbooks, two from each grade level from first to fifth. Each correct answer increases the amount of money the player banks; a maximum cash prize of $1,000,000 can be won. Along the way, contestants can be assisted by a "classmate", one of five school-age cast members, in answering the questions. Notably, upon getting an answer incorrect or deciding to prematurely end the game, contestants must state that they are "not smarter than a 5th grader."

Two people have won the $1,000,000 prize: Kathy Cox, superintendent of public schools for the U.S. state of Georgia; and George Smoot, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics and professor at University of California, Berkeley.

Production[edit]

In November 2006 it was pitched as "Do You Remember Grade School?"[6] by Burnett and Zoo Productions to network executives in the form of a six-question quiz; the only network president who was able to win on the quiz was Fox's Peter Liguori.[7] On January 31, 2007, Fox announced that they had picked up the show for an initial six-episode run,[8] and on February 9 Foxworthy was announced as host.[9] Less than eight weeks after being pitched, the first episode aired.[6]

On November 6, 2014, Fox announced it would revive the series, with a new generation of fifth-graders, to its lineup as part of the summer season of the 2014–15 season.[10] The new season features several changes, including a new panel of six regular fifth-grade students (whose usage & seating positions will rotate per episode), a new "Grade School Giveaway" feature on the $10,000 question, in which a school will win $10,000 towards improvements if the contestant answers their $10,000 question correctly, and the million dollar question is now from the sixth grade.[11] Foxworthy explained that the revival was the result of a conversation he had over dinner with Mark Burnett the previous year, in which he considered 5th Grader to be his favorite television role. When Fox approached him later in 2014 about reviving the series, he accepted the role with little hesitation.[12]

Original & revival versions (on Fox)[edit]

Gameplay[edit]

Question
No.
Correct Answer
Value
1 $1,000
2 $2,000
3 $5,000
4 $10,000
5 $25,000
6 $50,000
7 $100,000
8 $175,000
9 $300,000
10 $500,000
11 $1,000,000
1st Subject 2nd Subject
Million Dollar Question
5th Grade 5th Grade
4th Grade 4th Grade
3rd Grade 3rd Grade
2nd Grade 2nd Grade
1st Grade 1st Grade

In each game, the contestant (an adult) is asked a series of eleven questions, spanning ten subjects (such as Gym, Spelling or Art) taken from textbooks for first through fifth grade students. Each question is associated with a grade level; there are two questions per grade, from first to fifth. The player can answer the questions in any order, and each correct answer raises their cumulative amount of winnings to the next level (see table at right); after answering the fifth question correctly, they are guaranteed to leave with at least $25,000. If the player correctly answers the first ten questions, they are given the opportunity to answer a fifth-grade bonus question (sixth-grade in the 2015 revival) worth $1,000,000.

Five fifth graders (some of whom are also professional child actors)[13] appear on each show and play along on stage – in general, each episode in a season has the same cast of children. Prior to the show, the children are provided with workbooks which contain a variety of material, some of which could be used in the questions asked in the game.[14][15] The player chooses one to be their "classmate", who stands at the adjacent podium and is called upon for assistance in choosing a subject; the other four sit at desks off to the side. Each child acts as the classmate for at most two questions (done consecutively), after which another child is picked from those who have not yet played in that game.

Contestants have three forms of answer-assistance options (two cheats and a save), each available for use once per game (up to, but not including, the million dollar subject).[16] The two cheats, Peek and Copy, can be invoked by the contestant to aid in making a decision:

  • Peek: The player is shown their classmate's answer and may choose whether to go along with it or not; however, they must answer the question upon using this cheat.
  • Copy: The player is locked into using their classmate's answer, without being able to see it first. If the classmate is correct, the contestant is correct and advances up the money ladder. If the classmate is incorrect, the contestant loses the game. In the 2015 season, the classmate can talk with the other fifth graders in the class, and if they decide the classmate's original answer is wrong, they can change it.

However, the Save is simply a rule of the game:

  • Save: If the player answers incorrectly but their classmate is correct, they are credited with a correct answer. Unlike the Peek or Copy, the contestant cannot elect to use the Save, as it is used automatically on their first incorrect response. However, if the classmate's answer is also incorrect (or the classmate's answer is the same as the contestant's), the contestant loses. Players could use the Save in tandem with the Peek to have two possible answers, theirs and their classmate's. (The Save was removed in season 2 of the syndicated version.)

Once all three forms of assistance are used, the children no longer play an active role in the game.

If the contestant gets an answer wrong (and is not saved), they "flunk out", and lose everything — or drop to $25,000, if they surpassed the fifth question. They may choose to "drop out" at any point during the game (with the exception of the peek cheat noted above), which entitles them to leave the game with any winnings they have accrued.

The rules change slightly for the million dollar subject. The player is only shown the subject of the question before deciding if they will continue or drop out. However, if they choose to see the question, they are no longer eligible to drop out and must answer the question, with no assistance from the classmates or cheats. An incorrect answer will cause the contestant to leave with $25,000.[16]

If the contestant wins the million, they will have the opportunity to declare to the camera "I am smarter than a 5th grader!" However, if at any point during the game the player drops out or flunks out, they must face the camera, state their name, and declare "I am not smarter than a 5th grader."

"Classroom Club" questions were introduced into the game at the beginning of the second season. These questions are written by elementary school students, who submit them via the show's Web site. When one is used, the school of the student who wrote it receives a computer lab, courtesy of the show. "Field Trip" questions, introduced in the third season, feature a video clip of a National Geographic Channel correspondent asking the question from an appropriate location somewhere in the world. On the sixth season, the $10,000 question will also reward $10,000 to a grade school (connected to the studio via Skype) towards refurbishments and improvements if the contestant answers correctly.[12]

Casting[edit]

Each season, a new group of children are cast to appear as the "classmates" on the show.[17] Any child cast must be "smart, funny, and outgoing", and must actually be in grade 5 (age 9, 10 or 11) during the television season finales.[17]

Contestants who make it through the auditioning process are required to sign a one-year contract stating that they will not tell anybody how much money they make, and that they cannot tell or release any information about the actual auditioning process, such as the number of screening processes, the questions asked by the auditioners, and the actual credit for being accepted onto the show.

During every classmate's final appearance on the show ("Graduation Night"), each classmate receives a $25,000 savings bond.

Season Classmates
Seat 1 Seat 2 Seat 3 Seat 4 Seat 5 Seat 6
1 (2007) Laura Marano
Marki Ann Meyer[a]
Kyle Collier Jacob Hays Alana Etheridge Spencer Martin N/A
2 (2007–08) Cody Lee Mackenzie Holmes Sierra McCormick Nathan Lazarus Olivia Glowacki
Chandler Chaffee[b]
3 (2008–09) Jonathan Cummings Jenna Balk Olivia Dellums
Kassidy Yeung[c]
Bryce Kass Francesca DeRosa
4 (2015) Simmons "Tres" Allison III Reagan Strange Lauren Bullock Mason Davis Dee DuBois Angela Azar

Note: The seat numbering for seasons 1-3 represented here starts from the back left of the classroom and goes clockwise from the viewer's perspective. The 2015 revival has 6 regular kids whose usage and positions at the five desks are rotated for each episode.

  1. ^ Meyer replaced Marano halfway through Season 1.
  2. ^ Chaffee subbed Glowacki for two episodes in season 2.
  3. ^ Yeung filled in for Dellums in one episode of season 3.

Celebrity Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?[edit]

Beginning in season 2, many celebrities played the game and donated their winnings to the charity of their choice. Of these celebrities, Gene Simmons was the most successful, winning $500,000 for Glazer Pediatrics AIDS Foundation.[18] In addition to these celebrities, former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings and Nobel Prize winner George Smoot, both of whom were playing on their own behalf, won $500,000 and $1,000,000 respectively. Jennings's stint on the show helped propel him back into the lead for the most money won on game shows by one person in the United States.

Syndicated version[edit]

A half-hour daily syndicated version of the show, also with Foxworthy as host, began airing on September 21, 2009. This version features a top prize of $250,000 and a tweaked format between the prime time version and the daytime version.

On March 24, 2011, the show was canceled along with Don't Forget the Lyrics! due to low ratings.[19]

In the syndicated version each Class had five Kids in each episode, but there were nine kids who traded off with one another throughout both seasons.

The class is as follows:

Season 1 Class[edit]

Season 2 Class[edit]

  • Armaan Juneja
  • Terrell "TJ" Burnett
  • TY Panitz
  • Jordan Jones
  • Lauren Perez
  • Madison Leisle
  • Antonio Gutierrez
  • Jenni Marer
  • Danielle Soibelman


Gameplay[edit]

Subject Question Value
Bonus Question 10× Earnings
5th Grade $5,000
4th Grade $3,500
3rd Grade $2,500
2nd Grade $1,000
1st Grade $500

The game play for this version of 5th Grader is similar to the original Fox network version. Games are played by a single contestant, who attempts to answer eight questions plus one final 5th grade bonus question with the assistance of one of three 5th grade classmates (instead of five on the network version), who vary each week. In addition, each classmate can be used for up to three questions (as opposed to two on the network version).

Contestants are required to attempt all questions, and do not flunk out simply by answering a question incorrectly, instead losing all money earned to that point. If a player has any money left after all questions are asked, they are given the choice to either drop out with the money earned, or answer a 5th-grade bonus question worth 10 times their earnings. The maximum winnings are $25,000 without the bonus question, and therefore $250,000 if it is answered correctly.

If the contestant answers the bonus question wrong, they lose everything, but if they had earned at least $2,500 before the bonus question, then they receive a consolation prize in the form of a $2,500 prepaid card. If they had earned less than $2,500, the value of the card is $250. On celebrity episodes, the consolation prizes are cash donations to the celebrity's favorite charity.

In Season 1, there are 10 regular questions before the bonus question. The 3rd grade questions are worth $2,500; 4th grade, $3,500; and 5th grade, $5,000.

Season 2 premiered on September 20, 2010. The game was shortened, with the fifth grade questions removed from the main game, reducing the number of questions to eight (plus the 5th-grade bonus question). To compensate, the 3rd and 4th grade questions were increased to $3,500 and $7,500 respectively. In addition, the "Save" was removed, and contestants were no longer allowed to skip to a higher-grade question before attempting at least one question from each lower grade.

Reception[edit]

David Hinckley of the New York Daily News gave the revival series' cast a positive review, calling the classmates "terrific... smart, outgoing and funny," while arguing that Foxworthy "understands how much to showcase them."[20]

Ratings[edit]

The first season of the original series averaged 11.5 million viewers.[21] The 2015 revival premiered on May 26, 2015 to 3.31 million viewers, scoring a 0.8/3 rating/share among adults 18–49.[22][23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ward, Julia (December 14, 2006). "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?". TV Squad. 
  2. ^ ""Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" gets extra credit with 13 additional episodes" (Press release). Fox Broadcasting Company. March 15, 2007.  Via The Futon Critic.
  3. ^ "Fox announces primetime slate for 2007–2008 season" (Press release). Fox Broadcasting Company. May 17, 2007.  Via The Futon Critic.
  4. ^ "Class is in session twice a week when "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" airs on Thursdays and Fridays for four weeks this fall" (Press release). Fox Broadcasting Company. August 1, 2007. Retrieved September 6, 2007.  Via The Futon Critic.
  5. ^ Pursell, Chris (September 11, 2008). "Foxworthy Signs on for Syndie '5th Grader'". TVWeek. Archived from the original on September 12, 2008. Retrieved September 12, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Bauder, David (March 16, 2007). "Kids Outsmart Adults on '5th Grader'". Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 20, 2007. Retrieved March 18, 2007. 
  7. ^ Boedeker, Hal (January 31, 2007). "Fox asks: Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on June 16, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Fox Develops 'Smarter' Thursday Plan". Zap2it. January 31, 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  9. ^ "Foxworthy Proves FOX-Worthy Host". Zap2it. February 9, 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2007. 
  10. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (November 6, 2014). "FOX Revives 'Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader'". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  11. ^ Schneider, Michael (April 24, 2015). "First Look: Meet the New Students on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?". TVInsider.com. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "Jeff Foxworthy talks 'Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?' and its return to TV". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  13. ^ Elfman, Doug (March 8, 2007). "Smart kids caught in the act on '5th Grader'". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. 
  14. ^ During the credits at the end of the show, a disclaimer states: "Members of the class were provided with workbooks that covered grade school level material in a variety of subjects. Some of the material could have formed the basis of questions used by producers in the show."
  15. ^ Farhi, Paul (March 13, 2007). "Easy Does It". The Washington Post. p. C01. Retrieved March 15, 2007. 
  16. ^ a b "Episode AYS-109". Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader. Season 1. Episode 09. April 19, 2007. Fox Broadcasting Company. 
  17. ^ a b "Calling All Parents of Awesome 5th graders and up.". Fox News Radio. Archived from the original on May 10, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2010. [dead link]
  18. ^ Gregory, Jason (November 10, 2008). "Kiss' Gene Simmons 'Smarter than a Fifth Grader". Gigwise. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  19. ^ Davis, Alex (March 24, 2011). ""Don’t Forget The Lyrics!" and "Fifth Grader" Cancelled". Buzzerblog. Retrieved March 25, 2011. 
  20. ^ Hinckley, David (May 26, 2015). "'Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?' Jeff Foxworthy and kids have some elementary fun". New York Daily News. Daily News, L.P. Retrieved June 16, 2015. 
  21. ^ Morabito, Andrea (May 26, 2015). "Class is again in session for 'Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?'". New York Post. Retrieved June 16, 2015. 
  22. ^ Bibel, Sara (May 27, 2015). "TV Ratings Tuesday: 'America's Got Talent' & 'Extreme Weight Loss' Return Down, Strong Start for 'I Can Do That', 'Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader' Premieres Soft, 'iZombie' Steady". TV By the Numbers. Zap2it. Retrieved May 27, 2015. 
  23. ^ Maglio, Tony (May 27, 2015). "Ratings: Fox's 'Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?' Scores Low Marks in Return". The Wrap. Retrieved June 16, 2015.