It wasn't just the patriotic unitards and feathered hair that made American Gladiators so American. The game show itself was a tiny microcosm of the American Dream. Average (OK, slightly above average) Joes were set against bronzed demi-gods in contests of strength. The odds seemed impossible, but sometimes, through grit and determination, the Average Joes won.
And of course, there were strobe lights, big-ass gun turrets, plastic surgery, shabby jokes, and foam weapons. All that stuff is pretty American too.
A look at the careers of the Gladiators themselves also provides an odd glimpse into the American Dream. Beautiful, muscled young men and women, who by and large counted American Gladiators as their first big break, and attempted to use the show as a spring board. Some of them catapulted to own businesses and built respectable Hollywood careers. Others tasted the crueler side of the capitalist experience, ending up in adult film or on the street.
Combined, the experiences of the former Gladiators are incredibly varied, wildly strange, and wholly American.
It only seems fitting that we do the most American thing possible and pass gleeful, only marginally informed judgment on them. So here goes.