Floor Is Lava is a tribute to backyard imagination, a late-era classic Community episode, and ’90s nostalgia offerings like Double Dare and Legends Of The Hidden Temple, delivering on our desperate need for fresh entertainment and our want to see someone faceplant in a low stakes competition. But what if there were higher stakes? And what if those stakes made the game more epic and aggressive?
If they get a second season (which is definitely going to happen), maybe going bigger is the play to keeping Floor Is Lava relevant. No disrespect to the show, but for sure they didn’t make it knowing they’d have to satisfy the wants of an audience forever broken by months-long quarantines and quite probably too much Netflix (and time) on their hands. It’s a new world and lucky for the producers, we’ve got a couple of writers — Jessica Toomer and Jason Tabrys — who have been broken in just that way and they’ve got ideas in how to make Floor Is Lava even better. Good ideas? Eh, let’s find out!
Though everyone goes to great lengths to pretend that they’re actually surrounded by lava, spoiler alert, it’s not. But what if it was!? Or, at least, what if it was something other than a vat of bubbling orange duck sauce? Something a bit more dangerous?
Jason: I will start with my first idea, which is probably my best idea: what if we just call it Floor Is Guava and it’s just juice. And then maybe some of the players are allergic and they get itchy, but medics would be on hand with Benadryl or a shot.
Jess: I’m not totally convinced it’s not juice of some kind already. But yeah, it would really raise the stakes. That’s something this show needs because the farther you get along, the more you realize none of this matters, which is also life. I’m not suggesting actual lava. That would be too hard to get their hands on just from a production standpoint. I feel like it would be an upgrade even if they just made it liquid honey, so that when you fell in, it was a struggle to get out. Like, are you going to be able to get out of that and survive? That would be interesting. Just tease the possibility of death. Or maybe something that burns a little is needed, like something that stings a little. I don’t know, maybe cover their body in paper cuts and have it be like alcohol in the lava pit.
Jason: So, Floor Is Vodka. Also, Netflix absolutely has the money to create some kind of synthetic lava. And, to clarify, you want the possibility of death to actually be there for your pleasure or enjoyment as a viewer? So this is basically like a Gladiator kind of situation where you’re sitting in your fancy chair, ready to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Should we add a voting element where they rescue them… or they don’t?
Jason: No. Don’t like that as much as you just did.
The themed lava rooms aim to create a sense of uniqueness from episode to episode, but what if we continued with the theme of raising the stakes and added a little more creativity to the show?
Jason: They could have gone bigger. Especially now that I know they filmed in an old IKEA. Looking at some of the shows that this is spiritually connected to — Double Dare or Guts. Those sets were immense, especially Guts. And this is not. Is that the key? I don’t know who they got to design this thing, but they need to reach out to children because adults lack imagination. They’re just putting shit there that looks cool. The thing that Rachel Dratch had to run through to escape Margot Robbie’s moment on Billy On The Street was bigger. And more impressive. And more fun. Actually, why don’t they just make that into the show? Let’s just have Rachel Dratch and Billy Eichner and that’s the show. And we have Rachel Dratch run through these crazy, ornate, super creative obstacle courses and we can have her yelling “the floor is lava all the time,” too, if they like. Billy Eichner isn’t doing his usual thing right now. He’s not doing Billy On The Street right now to avoid it turning into Billy In The ICU.
Jessica: The Air Is Corona. Here’s another thing that bothers me about this show. With the exception of a few things like the spinning bed or whatever, everything is stationary. Why aren’t things moving when you have to jump on them or hang from them? I want to see feats of athletic greatness. I don’t ever want to watch a competition show where I think I could do better than the competitors. That just pisses me off. I don’t have a lot of pride in my athletic ability, but this show, even I could jump on a couch and they just act like it’s the hardest thing in the world to do. There’s no way I could do the monkey bars on the canoe, but I could hold on to one of those hanging curtains for a quick second. Also, nothing ever gets destroyed. Let’s have some breakable shit. Most of the stuff that they’re climbing on or landing on is made from a soft, bouncy material. It’s all like squishy material that you would make toys for babies out of. I would like some sharp edges. I would like some hard surfaces. You’re watching a show because you want to see people wipe out. You want to see people eat it. I don’t want to see them land on something that’s as soft as a marshmallow. It’s not that I want to see blood, but I wouldn’t look away. I’d say, “ooh, that must have hurt.” And then I would get even more into it probably. When you’re exposed to as much violence on TV as we are as children, I think seeing someone break a nose is not going to turn them off of the show.
Jason: I believe you could see bloodshed on American Gladiator and people would fall from a great height. Everything was padded, but padded like in the nineties, so not more than like a yoga mat on concrete is what I think that was. I feel like there was more danger in Double Dare. For one thing, very slippery floors. Absolutely you could have gotten more hurt in Double Dare, Guts, or Legends Of The Hidden Temple than in Floor Is Lava.
Jess: They make some of the surfaces here slippery, but I agree, I don’t think it’s enough. Everything is so well lit, too. You know when you see them torture people on TV and they put them in a room with like the latest loud rock music and the lights are super bright and then it goes dark? Why don’t they do something like that, like sensory deprivation? Or you could get someone with a paintball gun shooting at you as you’re jumping from thing to thing. Not things that are going to kill someone, but just things that make you stay on your toes.
A collection of cheery, friendly people take on the challenge of the game but are we missing out?
Jason: What does it say about me that I often find myself rooting for the lava? I can’t handle seeing someone say that they practice stand-up yoga on a paddleboard in the middle of the ocean before going out there. And then I have to root for them? I’m not programmed to do that. She just drops that detail like it’s nothing. If, instead of these amazing people, it was bad people… not bad people. I’m not suggesting we align this with the penal system and have murderers play. I’m not suggesting Running Man. But unsympathetic people.
Jess: People that we canceled on Twitter, like YouTubers or a politician? It would have to be people that we all collectively don’t like. Let’s Black Mirror the Floor Is Lava. If you want nice, go watch Great British Bake Off. I want people to scream and yell at each other. And I almost thought that was going to happen with the trio of flight attendants, but they let me down at the end because all three made it and they were so happy. I want to see people going at each other’s throats. I’m not interested in normal average people. What about a celebrity edition? But it has to be celebrity rivals, like if you got celebrities who had a real deep rivalry like Lindsay Lohan and Hillary Duff. Oh my God. There are so many that you could put in there. You could put Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan and Hillary Duff, the Holy four. The four-fecta. Or Monica and Brandy. Wouldn’t you want to see Monica and Brandy try to make it through this?
Is host Ruttledge Wood right for the supercharged version of the show that we’re building?
Jason: The host — bearded guy in flannel, moderately pleasing personality. Do we upgrade?
Jess: That’s you, Jason. You’re describing yourself. Is that why don’t like this guy, because you weren’t chosen?
Jason: There’s a warehouse where we’re stored.
Jess: Like Westworld. An actual host!
Jason: I escaped. No, he’s fine. I just feel like you take a leap forward if you replace him with some kind of Muppet or some kind of talking puppet. Maybe Triumph The Insult Comic Dog makes fun of these people ceaselessly the entire time instead of being helpful or informative. I don’t need point by point explanation of the layout before the game. Just let me just see them do it. Preferably while getting insulted by a hand puppet. We’re laughing and we’re learning. It’s great.
Jess: And he could also give them like bad advice, like “jump here, go here, you should hold on to that.” Actively rooting and conspiring against them. I think we’ve done it.
Jason: Agreed. Get Billy Eichner, Rachel Dratch, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, and a bunch of early aughts celebrity rivals and shitty people, nearly drown them in a vat of honey, let children create a bunch of crazy obstacles out of marble and broken glass utilizing every square inch of that IKEA, and then fire paintballs and insults at them. But we keep the lava lamp prize.