Blog Misc About

Rationalist adjacent reality TV shows

The Only Way is Ethics

The show follows the debaucherous exploits of the ever changing clique of researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute. They are young, free, and single living it up among the dreaming spires of Oxford. There is never a shortage of drama, be it is romance and rivalry with their frenemies at the Center For Applied Rationality, a grad student getting scooped on their trolley problem paper, or a hot new visiting professor in town.


The show has been near-universally panned as mindless mass entertainment, “never-ending glitzy bars, artsy establishing shots, and long discussions of contrived Pascal’s muggings leave the educated viewer with very little to take away” said one critic, with another arguing that “while the money the show generates for the institute may save thousands of lives, the suffering inflicted on the unsuspecting viewers more than cancels this out”.

Critics score: 16/100

Audience score: 89/100

Plead the Fifth

Interview show with a different radical libertarian every week. In which during the course of the interview, the guest and the host (Gwern Branwen) progress through increasingly hardcore illegal substances. It’s basically Hot Ones on drugs. If the guest thinks they can’t handle a particular drug they may at any time “plead the fifth” and instead down a fifth of whiskey.

Classic episodes include the one with Scott Alexander, in which he was seemingly unaffected by even the heroin/ayahuasca cocktail at the end and was able to carry on a fascinating conversation about prediction markets, and the one with Justin Murphy where he had to be carried out on a stretcher after doing one line of cocaine.


The show is a YouTube hit, with the most popular episode (with Elon Musk and Joe Rogan as guests) getting over 100M views. Despite what seems like lowest common denominator appeal, it is popular among critics too, the host has been widely praised for “really doing his research” and getting past the insane politics to really connect with his guests.

Critics score: 78/100

Audience score: 91/100

Love on the spectrum

oh wait this is already a show

Keeping up With The Collisons

A camera crew follows the billionaire Stripe founders (and Tommy) around in their hectic daily lives. The trio are constantly Jet Setting between the Stripe headquarters in Silicon Valley, the Lambda School headquarters (also in Silicon Valley), and visiting their Mam in Limerick.

The audience is kept on the edge of their seats. Will Lambda school finally start to show cracks in its meteoric growth (no)? Will John’s marriage survive the stress of running the world’s most popular payment platform (yes)? Will this be the season where Patrick finally takes Stripe public (no)?


The show has been received fairly positively by both critics and the public alike. One review said “while it is a very boring show, it’s refreshing to see people who just do everything in a sensible way”.

All that time at Stripe must have rubbed off on the show runners because they have decided to “spin out” a couple of other fly on the wall tech billionaire shows: The Show Musk Go On (which follows Elon Musk as he recovers from his latest breakup/rocket explosion), and Buterin Her Up (the ethereum founder goes on a different date every week hoping to find the woman of his dreams).

Critics score: 81/100

Audience score: 73/100

Acausal Golden Balls

Yes that’s right, the classic game of wits has been brought back to our screens. Four plucky brits have to lie, cheat, and bluff against each other to win a possible fortune. It ends with the now infamous Split or Steal round, in which the final two contestants go head to head to try and convince each other they are going to split the money 50/50, while really trying to get away with the whole lot.

But now there’s a twist. The contestants are not allowed to communicate in any way before, during, or after the show. This adds another layer of complexity to the strategy, meaning only the shrewdest players have a chance of winning, or even making any progress at all. Do you have what it takes to bring home the fortune?


Reviews have been mixed, with many critics agreeing that the show has managed to capture the fun, early 2000s nostalgia that they were hoping for. But pointing out that it is “extremely confusing” and “impossible to tell what the hell is going on”.

Critics score: 50/50

Audience score: 50/50

The Price is Wrong

Alex Tabarrok is the smooth-talking host of this unapologetically capitalist game show. Four contestants are chosen from the audience and are shown a swanky luxury product, they are told the price of the product, and are then given a description of the prevailing market conditions. They each have to guess what the price of the product should be to ensure that supply matches demand.

While it is only in its first season the level of ability of the contestants has been lacking, with almost all contestants guessing that the price should go down dramatically, often to zero. This has lead to a lot of the show being taken up with Alex going on long rants about rational self-interest, and sometimes straying into vaccine procurement and government capacity.


The show has been a flop, with rock bottom viewership, and critics reviews complaining that they “don’t get it” and that “the public are clearly not interested in the show at all”. To try and counter this the show runners have decided to triple the show’s budget for next year.

Critics score: 11/100

Audience score: 5/100