America's Funniest Home Videos

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America's Funniest Home Videos
AFV.jpg
Premiere special
November 26, 1989
series
January 21, 1990
Finale
Airs Sundays at 7PM
Creator Vin Di Bona
Host Bob Saget (seasons 1-8)
John Fugelsang (seasons 9-10)
Daisy Fuentes (seasons 9-10)
Tom Bergeron (seasons 11-)
Network ABC
Style 60-minute comedy game show variety
Company ABC Productions,
Vin Di Bona Productions
Seasons 24
Episodes 470+ (through season 23)
Status Currently airing season 24
Origin USA

America's Funniest Home Videos is one of the longest-running primetime entertainment shows on television, and ABC's longest-running such show, as of the start of the 2008-09 season. Although its hosts and format have changed over the years, the premise of the show has remained constant: Ordinary Americans send in funny (mostly—but not exclusively—serendipitious and unplanned) moments they have captured on home video, and at the end of each episode, the audience votes for the funniest clip, with awards given to the first prize, second prize and third prize winners. (Currently, the awards are $10,000 for first prize, $3,000 for second and $2,000 for third.) In addition, the first prize winners compete against each other at the end of every season for a $100,000 grand prize.

When it first debuted, America's Funniest Home Videos was a smash hit and one of the most popular shows throughout most of the 1990s. The success of this show and its low budget led to a craze of "caught on tape" specials and series throughout the decade. The FOX network, in particular, became notorious for sensationalizing the concept and pushing it to its logical extreme.

At almost the same time as ABC debuted the first America's Funniest Home Videos special, FOX—then just beginning to break out of its overlooked, "other" broadcast network shell to make the "Big Three" (ABC, CBS and NBC) into the "Big Four" of today—premiered another, much different documentary series, COPS. On the surface, except for their low budgets, America's Funniest Home Videos and COPS had almost nothing in common. The former was a variety show with a comedian host (Bob Saget of ABC's Full House), the latter a documentary show in which camera crews followed around real-life cops on the job. However, FOX recognized both shows featured ordinary people—not actors, stuntmen, or even highly-paid journalists—without script writers or cinematographers. Any danger faced by the people seen on-screen—be they police officers or simply people carrying electrical equipment up ladders—was genuine and immediate. In cop dramas, when a police officer was shot at, the actor playing the police officer had to pretend to fear death, although the bullets fired were blanks and any physical activity was handled by stuntmen. In situation comedies, when a man was hit in the groin, the actor playing him had to pretend not to expect it and to writhe in pain, even though the hit was carefully coordinated, and he was probably wearing a cup to protect from real damage. However, on America's Funniest Home Videos, the man hit in the groin really was hit in the groin, and the bullets fired on COPS were real bullets. What's more, America's Funniest Home Videos and COPS provided an appeal which traditional documentaries did not—the possibility that anyone, anywhere could do or film something which ended up on national television. In a sense, it was the final realization of artist Andy Warhol's famous prediction (meant literally, but often incorrectly taken as metaphorical), "In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes."

It didn't take FOX long to combine the element of viewer-generated footage from America's Funniest Home Videos with the lurid appeal of crime, physical danger and violence from COPS. The result was a host of specials and series throughout the 1990s—When Animals Attack, Man Vs. Beast, Terror on the Job, Video Justice: Crime Caught on Tape. FOX would even sometimes be so brazen as to make its titles clear nods to America's Funniest Home Videos, as it did with World's Most Shocking Moments. These specials and series were critically reviled but immensely popular. ABC, of course, was none too thrilled with FOX imitating the formula for its success to find even more success, and FOX was criticized for the move. That notwithstanding, well into the 2000s, FOX would receive criticism for stealing and sensationalizing ABC's documentary concepts—thus Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? first became Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? and then Joe Millionaire; Wife Swap became Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy; The Bachelor became My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance.

Although the concept of combining documentary footage with entertainment programming for TV dated back to Candid Camera, the unique combination would become so prevalent at FOX and in syndication that a new term, "reality," was coined to describe it. Although the genre would take on new forms in the following decade, America's Funniest Home Videos was one of its final progenitors. In addition, its competition-based format would lead to a spate of network primetime game shows in the 2000s—the first real explosion of the format in primetime since the quiz show scandal of the 1960s. It would also predict the rise of such people-in-danger shows as Jackass and such viewer-generated Internet sites as YouTube.

The America's Funniest Home Videos star faded a bit shortly before Saget left in 1997, but it continues to garner solid ratings and significant sponsorship. This is due to its broad, mainstream appeal, but its continued success is also ensured by the fact that it is, far and away, one of the lowest budget shows on network primetime in America. As most of its content is produced and filmed by the contestants themselves, its writing and filming crews are kept to a minimum. Even its cash prizes, which number in the hundreds of thousands in most seasons (the highest prize awarded to date was $250,000), are negligible compared to the millions of dollars winnable or potentially winnable in seasons of most of its reality and game show grandchildren. As a result, in all likelihood, America's Funniest Home Videos will remain on the air for many years to come.

Contents

Cast

Person Role Duration
Main Cast
Bob Saget Host 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 20
John Fugelsang Host 9 10 11
Daisy Fuentes Host 9 10 11
Tom Bergeron Host 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Seasons

Season Premiere Finale #
ABC
Season One January 26, 1990 May 20, 1990 15 + 1
Season Two September 16, 1990 May 12, 1991 25
Season Three September 22, 1991 May 17, 1992 25
Season Four September 20, 1992 May 16, 1993 25
Season Five September 19, 1993 May 22, 1994 22
Season Six September 18, 1994 May 21, 1995 19
Season Seven September 17, 1995 May 19, 1996 21
Season Eight September 22, 1996 May 18, 1997 21
Season Nine January 9, 1998 1998
Season Ten 1998 1999
Season Eleven July 20, 2001 December 2001
Season Twelve January 4, 2002
Season Thirteen September 27, 2002 May 9, 2003 24 + 1
Season Fourteen September 28, 2003 May 23, 2004 22
Season Fifteen September 26, 2004 April 29, 2005 21 + 2
Season Sixteen October 2, 2005 May 19, 2006 23
Season Seventeen October 1, 2006 May 18, 2007 25
Season Eighteen October 7, 2007 May 16, 2008 22
Season Nineteen October 5, 2008 May 15, 2009 24
Season Twenty October 4, 2009 May 16, 2010 24
Season Twenty-One September 26, 2010 May 15, 2011 24
Season Twenty-Two October 2, 2011 May 20, 2012 22 + 1
Season Twenty-Three October 7, 2012 May 19, 2013 22
Season Twenty-Four October 13, 2013

In-Depth

DVD Releases

Title Release Date #
'Best Of' Collections
Animal Antics October 12, 1999 1 purchase
Deluxe Uncensored October 12, 1999 1 purchase
Family Follies October 12, 1999 1 purchase
Home for the Holidays October 4, 2005 1 purchase
The Best of Kids & Animals December 27, 2005 3 purchase
Nincompoops and Boneheads June 13, 2006 1 purchase
Athletic Supporters August 1, 2006 1 purchase
Salute to Romance January 1, 2007 1 purchase
Episode Collections
Volume 1 July 26, 2005 4 purchase

External Sites