The Awfulness of ‘Queen for a Day’

My Grandma had what I could only think of as a very strange taste in television. I ought to know: I spent many an afternoon at her house, just the two of us.

She loved those old soap operas with the creepy organ music, most of whose plots seemed to consist of old ladies getting a raw deal; but the show that really gave me the willies was Queen for a Day. As I remember the format, the poor old trout with the most baroque sob story got to be Queen for a Day and received a lot of rather cheap prizes. This pioneering effort in reality TV ran on NBC from 1956-1960, and on ABC till 1964. It has since been equaled many times for sheer horribleness, but never surpassed.

For entertainment and edification value, it ranked somewhere between a deep paper cut and stepping in what your neighbor’s Great Dane left on your lawn when he got loose.

Oops! Wrong video! Somehow I got the 28-minute sample instead of the 2-minute one. Please don’t feel obliged to sit through the whole thing. Two or three minutes is more than enough.

6 comments on “The Awfulness of ‘Queen for a Day’

  1. The grass is greener. In order to stay up past 9 pm, I sat downstairs with my grandfather watching boxing, followed by Death Valley Days.

  2. When I was a very small child, my mother would occasionally leave me with a sitter who was, herself, an old trout, or perhaps an old carp. Her TV was always on and Queen for a Day was high on her list of shows not to miss. I was far too young to understand what was going on, but it seemed that someone was getting a lot of attention and to a very small child that seemed nice.

    Years later, I chanced upon a rerun of it and was appalled. There was nothing of any value to the program itself, just a bunch of over-the-top drama and pity. It obviously appealed to someone but I can think of better ways to spend my time. If there’s a lesson to all of this, I guess it’s that people will watch anything and abundant proof of this exists all around us.

  3. Wow, Lee, you really reached back for this show. I remember it (my grandma liked it too, along with soap operas). And did you watch the goofy commercials in this one? Actually, I long for those days when TV was goofy and rather innocent.

  4. My Mom watched Queen for a Day” and “As the World Turns,” (and she was a queen – and a great bowler, ha ha). Watching the video you posted brought back the memory of that constipated show. I can see why E-Lax was one of its sponsors.

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