As I write this, I’m currently sitting on a little over $80,000 in debt. I’m told it’s “the good kind” (at least, that’s what every article out there on student loan debt will tell you); but there’s nothing that feels good about having an $80,000 price tag hanging over your head for the next three decades.
My debt is all thanks to the leftover FAFSA loan incurred during my undergrad, which was then tacked on to the Master’s degree I earned in media studies that now seems somewhat worthless on a resume.
And so, like millions of other Americans, I begrudgingly hand over a hefty chunk of my paycheck every month to pay it off, bit by bit. As a result, I often find myself daydreaming about writing a bestseller or winning the lotto, just so I can knock out all my debt in one fell swoop. But it looks like now I might be filling out an application to join a brand-new game show that’s suddenly giving hope to people just like me.
The show, which is called Paid Off, premiered on truTV this week, and I’ve got a strong hunch it’s going to become a new favorite among millennials everywhere. The premise is simple: Contestants compete to have their student loan debt entirely paid off by answering questions about pop culture.
Imagine that? A game show where contestants aren’t trying to walk away with thousands of dollars lining their pockets, but just without the albatross of debt hanging around their neck. If you ask me, that’s a whole other kind of victory.
Paid Off is hosted by Michael Torpey, who you might recall seeing in Orange Is the New Black. During the show’s intro, Torpey explains that he too was one of the 45 million Americans saddled by student loan debt, until he booked an underwear commercial and was able to pay it off all at once. (Ugh — JEALOUS.) But Torpey knows that lucrative underwear commercials aren’t exactly a possibility for all of us. And so, the concept behind Paid Off was born.
The tone of the show is lighthearted and upbeat, but the reality is, most of the contestants are living with a fair amount of stress that they desperately need to relieve.
At one point during the premiere episode, Torpey asks a contestant named Madeleine what she would do if she won the show, and all her debt suddenly went poof.
“Right now, I live in a tiny little loft apartment with my boyfriend and my dog,” she tells him. “I would love to marry my boyfriend and move into a home with a yard.”
Yep — the American Dream really has become that simple.
It’s hard to hear about a show like this without getting simultaneously excited and also depressed, to be honest. According to the latest stats, Americans owe a whopping $1.5 trillion dollars in student loans. And thanks to current interest rates, many of us will be paying them off until we’re well into our golden years.
But maybe, just maybe, a lucky few of us will make it onto Torpey’s game show and find ourselves suddenly free from all that stress, worry, and ever-present anxiety.
And on that note, BRB while I go figure out how to get myself on this show …
Check out the trailer for Paid Off, which airs on truTV on Tuesdays, 10/9 Central.
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