Family Game Fight Brings the Battle—and Familiar Faces—to TV

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard enjoy playing games, both at home and on TV

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard enjoy playing games, both at home and on TV

Known for engaging in spirited contests on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, the fellow-actor spouses go bigger with their competitive spirit as NBC’s Family Game Fight! premieres with a special mid-Olympics episode on Sunday, before settling into its regular slot Wednesday.

Not only hosts and (with DeGeneres, among others) executive producers of the program, Bell and Shepard assist their respective teams—otherwise consisting of four close acquaintances, be they relatives, friends, co-workers, etc.—as the squads vie to win $100,000.

“I would describe it as ‘wild,’” Bell reflects… with Shepard adding, “Anytime they tell you to bring a change of clothes to rehearsal, you know what you’re going to get.” The couple has partnered on such projects as the movies Hit and Run and CHIPS and recently the animated AMC+ series Ultra City Smiths, and Bell maintains, “We love going to work together and playing off of one another. And if people seem to enjoy it, we’re happy to do it.”

Family Game Fight! comes naturally to the duo. “We love to watch fun game shows with our kids,” says mother-of-two Bell, “so we thought, ‘Why not venture into this category?’” Shepard cites a game he and Bell played on DeGeneres’ show as “the apex of our interaction. It was the most frustrating three minutes for us ever. And it was in public.” Indeed, Bell claims she and Shepard are “big fans of public embarrassment. They’re the best kinds of jokes.”

Those who compete on Family Game Fight! seem destined for similar feelings, from how the couple describes the contests. “Kristen is blindfolded,” Shepard reports, “and I’m dipping my lips in random food products, then kissing her.” Bell has to guess which food it is, and she declares the games “hopefully not too messy, but probably messy. For ‘Banana Hammocks,’ we put on giant banana costumes and try to catapult bananas from our knee area into the other team’s basket.” Deadpans Shepard: “Basically, we’re clearing space on our shelf for a Nobel Prize.”

Also reprising her role as the voice of Gossip Girl in the current HBO Max reboot, Bell says she and Shepard are “too competitive and too fun-loving to just want to sit on the sidelines” for Family Game Fight!, noting that trying to win money for their teams is “all the more reason to play to the best of our ability.” The co-host of the popular Armchair Expert podcast, Parenthood alum Shepard reveals that he and Bell already “have a game night at least once a month. We just figured out how to get NBC to pay for it!”

Family Game Fight! airs Sundays at 7:30 p.m. on NBC, Sundays at 9:01 p.m. on Global; and Wednesdays at 9:01 p.m. on Global & NBC