Look. If Floor Is Lava is meant for you, then you already know that in your heart.
The new reality series from Netflix is exactly what it sounds like: a Legends of the Hidden Temple-meets-Wipe Out mashup that tasks teams of three with completing extreme versions of the classic playground game. Climbing across themed sets of museum artifacts, bedroom furniture, outer-space obstacles, and more, contestants must keep themselves from falling into the “lava” (what appears to be warmed-up orange pool water) while making their way from start to finish as fast as their agility, cooperation, route-visualization, and upper body strength will allow.
Host Rutledge Wood, known for his role on Top Gear, presents the rules as follows: (1) anything and everything in the room is in play; (2) for every player that gets across, the team receives a point; (3) the team with the most points at the end of their run, or the fastest time in case of a tie, wins $10,000; and (4) don’t fall in because — say it with me — the floor is LAAAVAAAA!
Episode to episode, viewers watch as teams go head-to-head for their shot at the grand prize. Deceptively tricky puzzles, hurdles, and mind games block their way as “volcanic eruptions” coat every available surface with water, further increasing the likelihood of slipping. At the same time, the steps needed to get out at the exit are slowly falling away as the lava levels rise, making the game harder with each second that ticks by. It’s a pressure cooker of anxiety that forces the series’ daring trios to leave it all out on the faux basalt, or be reduced to a metaphorical pile of ashes.
Giving Floor Is Lava the Olympic-style announcer treatment, Wood breaks down the best ways to go about approaching each course. For audience eyes only, a bird’s-eye view map of the course marks out competitors’ options for reaching the exit. It’s fun to see teams correctly put all the pieces together and make it across cleanly, but even better to watch people get frustrated, aimlessly hurl their bodies into the air, and hope. Sometimes, it works! Other times, not so much. Luckily, Netflix’s phenomenal reality casting came through again with a lovable group of weirdos who are genuinely fun to root for.
Whether it’s the triplets dressed head-to-toe in American flag gear or the youth pastors who take the name of the Lord in vain a surprising amount, Floor Is Lava‘s competitors all seem to be having a fun time with their reality TV debuts. Sure, some are more up to the task than others, but for the most part, anyone can play this game and the resulting gaggle of goofballs makes the show far more enjoyable for it. Long live the teen girl who “sacrificed” herself so her mom could make it.
2020 hasn’t given us a lot to celebrate, but watching Netflix embrace the joys of reality television with shows like Love Is Blind, The Circle, Cooked With Cannabis, Dating Around, and more, has been a bright spot for me personally. When all I want out of TV is something fun to throw on in the background while I spend yet another day at home, Floor Is Lava checks all the boxes. Plus, it gave me a great new way to get my exercise in. Even if jumping from my coffee table to my couch did cost me a lamp. And a vase. And my boyfriend’s respect.
Floor Is Lava is now streaming all 10 of its episodes on Netflix; Mashable reviewed the first four.
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