Drew Carey has taken over his new role as host of The Price is Right, and the reviews have been mixed. Some seem to enjoy his "every-man" appeal, while others are simply looking for a sleek new replacement comparable to Bob Barker.
Before the new season began, I was excited to see how Carey would handle his hosting duties. As a long-time Drew Carey fan, the transition seemed like a natural one. He's terrific as host of Power of 10, where he interacts well with contestants and the audience, bringing his natural humor to the show. But TPIR is a far different game show, with a devoted audience. When you've been watching the same show with the same host for 35 years, change can be difficult.
Comparisons to Bob Barker
Bob Barker defined The Price is Right. He was suave, sleek, and the ladies seemed to love him. While he certainly had a sense of humor – one only needs to watch his appearance in the movie Happy Gilmore to see this in action – Barker generally kept the show running with precise timing and calculated comments. He was approachable, but not overly so; friendly, but only to a point.
Barker hosted TPIR for 35 years. That's a lifetime for some of us. He took his work seriously, and turned the game show into a well-oiled machine. Things moved along smoothly for Barker, even when contestants were over-the-top and threw him curve balls.
It's natural for viewers to compare Drew Carey with Bob Barker, and many will tell you that Carey is out of his league. But is it fair to make comparisons here? Carey is only just finding his way as a game show host – any one of us who has struggled to learn the ins and outs of a new job can relate to this. The difference here is that Carey has to learn the ropes in front of a national television audience.
So How is Drew Carey Really Doing?
Moving past the Bob Barker comparisons, it's easy to enjoy Carey as the host of The Price is Right. Sure, he's had some moments where he's looked awkward or unsure of himself, but that's to be expected. But he's also brought a warmth to the show that draws viewers in and keeps them hooked.
Carey seems to genuinely enjoy the contestants on the show, and relates to them well. He embraces the longevity and history of TPIR, has fun with the games and the show's staff, and makes a real connection with the contestants, getting excited for them when they win, and commiserating when they don't. Carey's sense of humor is toned down here, which is certainly appropriate for the job. But it's not missing entirely, and his funny comments are well timed.
Drew Carey brings two great strengths to The Price is Right: his connection with the contestants, and the sense that he is truly enjoying this experience. He makes the contestants the real stars of the show. It's amusing to watch him in action, having as much fun as the people playing Plinko, spinning the big wheel, or eyeing the prizes in the Showcase Showdown.
When the hype dies down and Carey has had the opportunity to really settle in to his new role, he'll acquire some of the smoothness attributed to Bob Barker. If he keeps his down-to-earth, approachable demeanor throughout, he'll be enjoying this job for many years to come. And we'll be enjoying it right along with him.