Welcome to What’s the Buzz, 25YL’s feature where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. In our internet age, there is so much out there to think about watching, reading, listening to, etc., that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, filter out the noise, or find those diamonds in the rough. But have no fear! We’re here to help you do that thing I just described with three different metaphors. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They won’t always be new to the world, but they’ll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week, Derrick Gravener discovers The Sims Spark’d, Rachel Stewart recommends Hadestown, and John Bernardy is listening to Imaginary Worlds: Inverting Lovecraft.
The Sims Spark’d
Derrick: Truly one of the strangest entertainment developments to come in 2020 is The Sims Spark’d, a competition where “simmers” battle it out in teams to see who is the best group of simmers. It’s one part the kindness of The Great British Baking Show, one part the competition and star making of The Next Food Network Star (R.I.P.), and one part the team-building/butting heads of The Amazing Race.
Capitalizing off of the popularity of The Sims franchise, now in its fourth iteration, The Sims 4. The show takes simmers who have made a YouTube career out of their simming talents and categorizes them into being: a builder, a stylist, or a storyteller—and then puts one on each team. An interesting feat for a game that’s not multiplayer.
In the first episode, there are cliché moments where teams clash, and there are your typical moments of manufactured drama. But something powerful happens when the winning team of the skills challenge uses their advantage not to sabotage others, but to actually help them. Therein lies the beautiful juxtaposition of The Sims Spark’d. Beneath a formulaic—somewhat forced—setup lies the beauty of a community of simmers coming together to build houses, style characters, and tell complex stories using the inclusive platform.
Beyond this show, at-home players of The Sims franchise can also participate in user challenges online after each episode airs. It feels weird to put simmers into competitions or online challenges, but from what I’ve seen it really only draws genuine compliments or beautiful moments of connection.
The message of the series is interesting so far because the teams that succeed the most are the ones that work the best together. This doesn’t sound groundbreaking, but it kind of feels that way given that each team member is broken up into their respective focus. Sure, we all have our strengths, but so far success comes to the teams that truly collaborate in all areas.
Hosted by Rayvon Owen and judged by BuzzFeed Multiplayer’s Kelsey Impicciche, EA Producer Dave Miotke, and Grammy Award nominee (and avid Simmer) Tayla Parx, the show is your typical warm-up challenge (skills challenge in this case), followed by elimination challenge with a prize of $100,000 in sight for teams. Rolling out weekly via TBS on Fridays followed by BuzzFeed Multiplayer’s YouTube channel on Mondays (until Aug. 7th, and Aug. 10th, respectively) this competition series, although standard in terms of format, finds much needed grounding in the humanity of its simmers.
I think something really beautiful could come out of this show. The simming community will hopefully flip the competitive nature of the show’s genre on its head and champion kindness, connection, and community in a time of unkind actions and uncertainty.