Yesterday, Fox placed a series order for an American version of You're Back in the Room, a British game show with a highly unlikely premise.

On this ITV series, five contestants compete for a cash prize of £25,000 by completing simple tasks like decorating cakes and blowing up balloons. But what makes those tasks decidedly less simple is that the participants have just been hypnotized, live on stage.


Professional hypnotist Keith Barry "hacks" into their brains, feeding them with suggestions to sabotage their progress in the challenges and, why not, generally make fools of themselves. A contestant might be instructed to smash his face into a freshly frosted cake on command, say, or suddenly develop the impression that his underwear is much too tight.

The results—well, they're certainly compelling.

The four-episode first season of You're Back in the Room aired this past spring, and prompted viewers to wonder whether the contestants were "faking" their outlandish behavior. Others have argued that it's more likely that the show's auditions screen for highly suggestible subjects.

An Australian adaptation of You're Back in the Room is also in the works. The U.S. version is scheduled to shoot early next year, although it hasn't found itself a host yet.

It remains to be seen how the game show will play with audiences on this side of the Atlantic, where hypnosis most recently made national news for its association with tragedy. A Florida high school principal who hypnotized students without parental permission came under fire after three teenagers died shortly after he'd worked with them.


If only there were some way Fox could unconsciously persuade viewers around the country to tune in.

Molly Fitzpatrick is senior editor of Fusion's Pop & Culture section. Her interests include movies about movies, TV shows about TV shows, and movies about TV shows, but not so much TV shows about movies.

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