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NERDING DAY

Nerding Day: Ultimate Tag

Ultimate Tag is a real show that I did not make up no matter how many times I fact check this sentence. Nope, still real. Are you sure? Yeah, holy shit. This is the world, everybody. We’ve reached stupid critical mass here and any further stupid will have to happen in space.

I know talented artists that have struggled their whole lives to land a show on TV. They practice and study, refine and revise and kill themselves perfecting their craft, sure that one day they’ll be good enough for the bigtime. But that’s not how TV works. That’s not how anything works. Everything in this garbage society works like this:

RICH ASSHOLE: We need a new show. It literally doesn’t matter what it is. Pick a thing.

RICH DIPSHIT: What about children’s games? We do them but with huge children.

RICH ASSHOLE: Adults?

RICH DIPSHIT: Yeah, those.

RICH ASSHOLE: Sounds good, do you want to kill a sex worker and blame a minority?

RICH DIPSHIT: Always!

Anyway this semen in the eyeball of quality is hosted by J.J. Watt and several lower Watts who, as I understand it, are football.  

Yeah, those are the hosts this show deserves. J.J. Watt’s brothers look like they’re two different species on the timeline of animals that evolved into J.J. Watt. I’m sure somebody’s going to jump in here and tell me they all give huge kidneys to war orphans, but they look like somebody trying to draw Tom Brady from memory and they speak every sentence like it’s a word puzzle.

Everything you need to know about Ultimate Tag’s atmosphere can be described by their theme song. It’s a little number called Ladies and Gentlemen by a band named Saliva, which critics once described as “painfully unnecessary.” That’s the only appropriate anthem for Ultimate Tag, which seems to less pay homage to the ‘90s than to wildly misunderstand what was charming about them in the first place.

The actual game of Ultimate Tag is exactly what it sounds like: It’s tag reimagined by Mountain Dew. There are special courses and alternate rules but it’s important to remember that, at its core, Ultimate Tag is wussier than normal tag because you’re not allowed to touch each other. You pull flags. Flag tag is the pillow humping of playground games. It’s the game you play when your PE teacher can’t afford another ‘incident’ on his watch. Flag tag is the version the mitten-mandatory kids do at the James Buchanan School For Sexually Bizarre Children. 

That got a TV show!

Ultimate Tag courses are mostly just repainted Double Dare sets full of extremely minor obstacles for aspiring Influencers to stumble over. Sometimes they branch out and do some pretty crazy setpieces that still manage to be boring, but in the air.

Ultimate Tag was an idea so bad it wouldn’t fly as a MadTV skit, and it was executed worse than Muammar Gaddafi, a Baltimore traffic stop, or a MadTV skit. Ultimate Tag sucks… but what we’re really here to do is make fun of the Ultimate Taggers. 

Yes! They rolled up some American Gladiator characters! To play tag! Holy shit, what a gift for me. Thank you, Ultimate Tag! I take back none of the things I said about you, but thank you for doing my absolute favorite two things in the world: Trusting professional athletes with a creative task, and wildly overestimating the enduring legacy of American Gladiators.

Let’s meet a few of the pro taggers!

This is Horse:

He kind of looks like you accidentally threw away Kit Harington but managed to find him again at the dump, and his persona is that he’s very angry… like a horse? His catchphrase is “you ain’t never gonna put the horse down” which is just patently untrue. They’re like the easiest animal to put down. Half of all animal deaths in pop culture are horses with broken legs. We put horses down if they look like they have a headache. Horses die just to prove cowboys have emotions. We kill horses for emphasis. They’re like the underline of the animal world.  

Here’s Flame:

Her whole deal is that she’s a martial arts and weapons expert, neither of which she is even close to allowed to use in this — again — extremely gentle game of flag tag. She acts like a cold and calculated killer, and then they let her loose to do what she does best… which is jogging around a Burbank soundstage for twenty seconds while looking mildly annoyed.

This is Viking:

He seems most committed to his character, which consists mostly of him improvising incorrect facts about viking villages. “In my village,” he roars, “the boys would… you would tend to chickens!” This claim is met with general confusion. “In my village,” he roars again, “we used… wooden swords! We slapped each other with wooden swords!” The vibe is confused, anxious. “Vikings lived in villages!” He roars thricely, “I looked that up!”

This is Beach Boy:

Whose entire persona is “shorts.” He’s happy, none too bright, and you could probably fuck him in South Padre and not worry that he’ll get all clingy and try to start a long distance thing when you head back to Oklahoma. He will giggle at the “homa” part though. Every time.

Meet La Flair:

The mandatory dickwad who used his own real name as his alter ego. Fuck you, you placeholder of a man. You cardboard cutout audience member. I’d say you’re like mayonnaise but sometimes people notice the absence of mayonnaise. You’re the paladin of Ultimate Tag.  

Here’s the Iron Giantess:

Her whole deal is that she’s huge and strong but — again — she’s not allowed to use either of those things in this, a game of tag for children who need safety scissors. In fact, both of those traits are significant disadvantages in a game whose only defining attributes are speed and agility. I think the idea was to have her be like what Andre the Giant was to wrestling, but instead she’s like what Andre the Giant was to heart medicine. 

It’s The Caveman!

Hahaha, fantastic. I guess his persona is that he’s been unfrozen into modern society and then thrust into the game of Ultimate Tag? That’s a terrible use for an unfrozen caveman! Bring him to the mall and laugh at his antics. Bring him to the airport and watch him freak out about godbirds. Fuckin’ bring him to high school so he can make you popular — you only get one, maybe two unfrozen cavemen in your life. Don’t burn one on Ultimate Tag

Now it’s time for Banshee:

She’s the show’s wild card, which mostly consists of her making crazy eyes and embarrassing screeches. Banshee claims to lure men in with her beauty and sweet song only to lead them to disaster, which you might recognize as actually a siren. Listen, some people run good and some people read good. It’s true that some people do both, but if you agree to be on the show Ultimate Tag, it’s safest to assume you’re not one of them and just ask for help with your homework.

And lastly, we meet Geek:

He thought Napoleon Dynamite was really funny, and so did everybody else for like four months. That was the last time he understood society. When they asked him to make up a tag persona, he didn’t have an idea, but he did have an old Halloween costume and a desire to belong again.

Anyway, don’t watch Ultimate Tag. There are like three funny minutes in each episode where they force athletes to do improv, and the rest is just watching Crossfit enthusiasts do some light jogging and deal with mild frustration.

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme, Nick Ralston: whose tag persona is Man With Gun and has never been tagged.

10 replies on “Nerding Day: Ultimate Tag”

This article just dips its toe into the pantheon of forgettable Ultimate Tag characters. Which is fair because words cannot describe the disdaine one has when they see Atomic Ant. A name like that can only be awesome on paper where it is free from the crushing weight of reality.

but…but there are so many taggers in that picture. i must know more! Why was this? where did it air? who the fuck thought cloning more watts was a good idea????

I read this distractedly, but I genuinely thought this was a review of a 90s game show based on the description, characters, and designs. I didn’t even get tipped off until I saw the Viking and thought “I don’t remember a lot of Viking characters in the 90s.” Then I saw it ran in 2020 and I’ll be honest- I lived through the 90s and this Ultimate Tag show (Even the name is 90s) is more 90s than the actual 90s were. All it needed was a few more references to EXTREME and maybe some skateboarding.

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