Chase Russell is one of those reality and game show aficionados who doesn’t tune in merely for their entertainingly diverse nature but is woefully fixated on one day finding himself deep in a jungle, perhaps not “Naked and Afraid” as much as a victorious lone “Survivor,” with television cameras catching his every move.
You name the show, and Chase would love to be a part of it, and that’s not just a solo act. He wouldn’t mind taking others down this cinematic rabbit hole with him.
His brother, Jansen, and sister, Tori, were well aware of this fanatical preoccupation, which helped when Chase messaged the two one day, suggesting they pack their bags for a trip to suburban Atlanta.
The producers of the long-running game show “Family Feud,” where a pair of families try to outpoint one another by answering questions like “name a bad job for someone who’s afraid of heights” or “name a reason why your parent would ground you,” thought they might be an engagingly nice fit.
Unbeknown to the other Russell clan, who had to be on board with this game show thing, Chase had applied as one of the competing families.
“We were surprised but not surprised,” is how Jansen put it when his younger brother informed him that show producers had at least made contact.
The thing is, Chase had sent out countless applications to countless other shows, hearing nothing but crickets.
Thankfully, the Russells, Arlington born and bred, are a spirited bunch; Dad is said to be super competitive and had heat blowing out of his ears almost immediately, while mom was excited but a bit nervous.
Dad (John), Mom (Janna), Jansen, Chase, and Tori formed the team – there’s another Russell, Brett, a triplet, along with Jansen and Tori.
Show producers set up a mock game run-through via Zoom; the family got most of the answers correct and seemed charming enough to fly them out for the real thing.
“Family Feud” tapes four to five shows a day. You win, you keep playing, and that’s what the Russells did twice before falling short in the third game.
They did incredibly well even in that episode – Chase kick-started the game by blurting out “Spray your hose” to the question, “If there was a dance called ‘The Fireman,’ name something you might do while you perform it.”
His answer was first on the board and netted a whopping 62 points.
They steamrolled from there with John (“Climbing the ladder”), Tori (“Ax to break down the door”), and Chase, again (“sliding down the pole”), piling on the points.
But in the end, it was like watching a Cowboys team dominate most of the game only to slip in the end and fall in overtime, which the Russells did.
“I remember being much younger, sitting with my mom while she was getting ready for work watching Family Feud,” Jansen says. “Some of us would sit around answering questions and saying, man, we’re kind of good at this.”
The trip was a fun-filled bonding experience for the Russells, who hadn’t been together in a competitive way since going at one another in a backyard volleyball death match. With Tori in New York now, it was like an unexpected family reunion, with comedian and do-it-all host Steve Harvey as emcee.
Harvey, you might remember, grew up in Cleveland, but, during his early career, he dug in roots in DFW – opening a comedy club here, in fact. He greeted the Russells on air with a shout-out, saying they were “off Highway 360 in Arlington.”
“It was a 10 out of 10 experience,” says Chase. “And the fact I got a chance to do this with my family. . .”
I don’t think Chase is done, by the way. He still has eyes on “Survivor” or even “Amazing Race.”
The latter might be an excellent fit for him and his new bride since he got engaged the same week as the Russell reality TV episodes aired.
“Yeah,” says Jansen, “I guess it was a big week for the Russell family.”