MTV, the once-innovative cable network that just passed its 34th anniversary, has long been an incubator of talent. Pauly Shore, Jenny McCarthy, Puck, Jesse Camp, Snooki. Where would any of them be without the guiding hand of Music Television? Even the channel’s most obscure and least-remembered offerings provided national exposure for future show business legends. Case in point: the highly-caffeinated game show Trashed, which lasted five crazy, demolition-filled months back in 1994. Essentially a bald-faced ripoff of MTV’s previous hit, Remote Control, Trashed pitted two teams of contestants against one another to answer insultingly easy pop culture questions in a debris-strewn, junkyard-themed set. The show’s gimmick was that each team had brought along several treasured personal possessions—color TV sets, stereos, prom dresses, cassette collections—which could potentially be “trashed” if its members did not correctly answer enough queries about sitcoms and pop songs. Don’t know who starred in Pump Up The Volume? Say goodbye to your favorite cowboy boots.
Now, thanks to YouTuber Andrew Ferreri, a full episode of Trashed—specifically an installment which aired on April 12, 1994—is readily available for viewing. The program itself is nothing particularly special, as it hews so closely to the Remote Control format, right down to the time-killing comedy bits and music-video-based lightning round. What is remarkable, though, is the presence of some future familiar faces. Looking almost prepubescent and very naive, future Talking Dead and Nerdist kingpin Chris Hardwick hosts Trashed as affably as he can. The aforementioned comedy bits, meanwhile, feature such able comedians as Brian Posehn (as “Crazy Boy”), Doug Benson (rocking a beret as “The Dateless Wonder”), and Dave Higgins (as “showbiz historian Shane Grey”). In his own reflections on Trashed, Hardwick also mentioned that the show’s “elaborate machines” were designed by MST3K creator Joel Hodgson. This being 1994, the episode also includes commercials for films of the era, including The Inkwell, Backbeat, and Serial Mom, plus a plug for long-gone retailer Service Merchandise.
One possibly uncomfortable moment for modern viewers, however, arrives near the end of the program when a group of white actors dressed as frat boys gather around a handcuffed, jumpsuit-wearing African-American man and vomit beer on him. He lost the game and is therefore being “trashed.” While Trashed likely intended this as a lighthearted moment with no racial underpinning whatsoever, it is difficult not to cringe when it happens.