A robot speeds around from building to building, offering people -- from firemen to bus drivers -- a chance to breathe air shipped directly from Jeju Island. A man, standing 5'6", gathers friends of similar height for a party designed specifically for them, taking a bus that has had all the standing grips lowered to go to a custom-designed room where they don't need a ladder to change the lightbulbs. Another man dresses up as Ryu and sets up a Street Fighter console in the back of his car, driving all over Seoul to challenge the best celebrity gamers to increasingly difficult matches. This is all in just one episode of the South Korean variety show Infinite Challenge.
American game shows are one thing -- your American Ninja Warrior, your Survivor, your Beat Shazam (if that's still a thing) -- but Korean variety shows are on a whole other level. It's that very insanity that's kept me watching Infinite Challenge for going on a decade now; the crazier the episodes get, the more I love them. Every summer when I was growing up, my family visited Korea to see my entire extended family. Large chunks of that time were spent planted in front of the TV, as most of my cousins weren't close enough in age that we'd hit the town together, and my Korean was a little lacking for me to be comfortable around the adults. For the most part, I'd watch the channels that played American movies (for instance, I first watched the 1999 The Mummy while I was in Korea). The sole exception to the rule was Infinite Challenge, the show that, to me, is one of the best emblems for opening your heart to the unknown. So why have Americans barely heard of it?