In time for its 40th anniversary, "The Price Is Right" is finally hiring its first male model -- sort of.
The show will host a web series that will allow audience members to choose one man who will appear on "The Price Is Right" for a week in October. An open casting call is scheduled for Aug. 30 in Los Angeles, where potential models will be judged on posing, product showcasing, and verbal skills. Six finalists will be chosen by the show's producers and female models, and the winner will be determined through a five-part web series that begins next month on YouTube and the show's official site.
The lucky guy will make his debut on Oct. 15, and while the gig isn't permanent, it's a step in the right direction for a show with an unfortunate past of sexual harassment and bullying claims from former models.
But is it too little too late? Considering that the show's legacy includes claims of wrongful dismissals, discrimination, and harassment, this temporary diversification of the models doesn't quite mends its reputation. One could also argue that voting a male model in through a popularity contest spares him the behind-the-scenes politics -- especially since he'll be a week-long novelty, not a permanent staff member.
However, since Drew Carey took over "Price is Right" hosting duties from Bob Barker in 2007, there have been changes. Not only are models now referred to by their real names (in Barker's day, the models simply had nicknames), they appear on the show's closing credits, and have been given microphones so that viewers can actually hear their comments. While this may seem like baby steps, it's still progress for the artists formerly known as "Barker's Beauties," who were arguably depicted as glorified mannequins.
The baby steps continue with the show's upcoming male model, who, despite only being around for a week, will still represent a milestone in the game show's history. Yes, it's a contest likely used to drum up interest in a younger, web-savvy demographic, but 40 years ago this would have been unheard of. And while the last 40 years have seen countless changes in model staff, this tiny development is huge for a franchise that still uses a theme song from the 1970s.
Ultimately, once one male model debuts, others are sure to follow. However, here's hoping that either "The Price Is Right" begins giving female models the chance to compete for a place through a web contest, too, or at least creates a hiring procedure that treats all genders equally.
But until then, here's to "The Price Is Right" attempting to, um, right its wrongs through creative means. Now, does "Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul know he has a chance to make it on the show again?