quarantine stream floor is lava

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The TV Show: Floor is Lava

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Pitch: Remember that game you played as a kid, where you would have to jump around on furniture without ever touching the floor, because the floor was “lava”? Well, Netflix went ahead and turned that into a game show. Yes, it’s very stupid. Yes, it’s very fun to watch.

Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: Floor is Lava will never win any awards. It’s not prestige TV. It’s not even that great a game show. But there’s something undeniably enjoyable about watching adults try to navigate through elaborate obstacle courses while avoiding a floor of bubbling “lava” – or red-orange-colored water, to be more precise. No matter how ridiculous you think this idea is, I promise you that you’ll be hooked by the first episode, sitting on the edge of your seat and yelling at the contestants as they try to avoid all that lava.

When the trailer for Floor is Lava dropped, I immediately showed my wife and said, “We gotta watch this.” She was skeptical. “It looks stupid,” she said – and I wasn’t about to argue with her. She was correct – it did look stupid. But it also looked like it would be exactly the type of escapism needed right now. A brief, fleeting distraction that entertains without requiring much introspection. I don’t like to use the phrase “turn your brain off” in regards to viewing entertainment of any kind, but if that ever applied to something, it’s Floor is Lava.

The set up is very simple: a team of three people have to navigate through various rooms. Each room has a theme: an Egyptian room, with mummies and pyramids; a bedroom, with a spinning bed and a chandelier that drops from the ceiling; a restaurant, where contestants are encouraged to swing from one side of the room to the next by grabbing onto a dangling slab of mozzarella; and so on. The floor of each room is a water tank filled with bubbling reddish-orange liquid, meant to represent lava. The teams have to help each other find their way from one side of the room to the next, hopping from one elevated piece of furniture to the next, all while avoiding that deadly lava.

If a contestant falls into the lava, that’s it – they’re dead. Well, not really, of course. But the show is edited in such a way that when we see someone fall into the liquid, we never see them come back up – until the end of the show, that is. For all intents and purposes, they’ve perished. The team with the most members to make it to the end wins. In the event of a tie – say, two competing teams both end up with one surviving member at the end – the team that beat the room fastest is awarded the cash prize.

Floor is Lava dropped on Friday on Netflix, and despite my wife’s skepticism, I said: “Let’s give it a try.” She hesitantly agreed. We blew through the entire first season that night, and by the time it was over, we were both wishing we had more. Because despite how ridiculous and disposable Floor is Lava is, it’s also incredibly entertaining. It had the power to turn my wife from a skeptic into a believer, clamoring for a second season. It was exactly the type of harmless fluff we needed on a Friday night. Don’t believe me? Give it a try yourself. And watch out for the lava.

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