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Anteater TV’s “Shoot Your Zot!” is Endearingly Captivating

Anteater TV, UCI’s student-run multimedia entertainment platform, recently came out with a Zoom game show called “Shoot Your Zot!” Created by Anteater TV content creators Adrienne Santiago, Lyndsey Narvaez, Sydney Caulder, Mariam Zalmyan, Angel Chuang, Viri Serrano, and Kristi Yamashita, the cleverly-titled show softens the blow of a painstakingly isolated quarantine.

The title of the show is a play on the slang “shoot your shot,” a phrase meant to “let go of your pride and pursue someone you are interested in,” according to Urban Dictionary

The pilot episode of “Shoot Your Zot!” was uploaded to the Anteater TV YouTube channel on Dec. 7, 2020, effectively marking the first of many episodes to come. The pilot featured contestants Megan Chimwaza (20), Briana Madera-Johnson (20), Lizet Magana (20), Catalina Furra (19), Ashley Perez (18) and bachelor Randy Yan (21). 

The premise of the show is as follows: a bachelor, or bachelorette, builds a rapport with each of the contestants over the course of four rounds. Following icebreakers, face reveals and deeper, individual questions as a group, the bachelor, in addition to the contestants, makes their final decision: will they shoot their Zot … or not? 

Meant for mere casual conversation, round one is the bachelor’s first impression of each contestant, as  they each answer an icebreaker posed by one of the hosts. In round two, contestants are told to turn their cameras on, thus revealing their identities to the bachelor. In round three, the bachelor is given 15 minutes to ask each of the contestants their own question. In round four, contestants are individually asked about the prospect of being chosen by the bachelor. They additionally get a choice to whether or not they would like to “shoot their zot” with the bachelor in question. In the end, the bachelor exits the Zoom call after he has expressed his decision to the hosts. Contestants are then encouraged to chat among themselves “post-interview,” disclosing final thoughts, expectations and anticipation for the episode to be viewed by Anteater audiences. 

Hosts Sydney Caulder and Santiago, in addition to logistics host Narvaez, are the show’s unsung heroes, bridging the inevitable Zoom call silence with bubbly enthusiasm and leading questions for the bachelor to build from. Still, with any Zoom call, there’s expected to be moments of miscommunication, laggy Internet connections and the obligatory muted voice. 

When asked about the inspiration behind the show, Narvaez candidly responded “it’s quarantine; we’re all lonely, we need someone to [fall] for.” 

Caulder stated that “we thought it would be a fun way to bring together members of the UCI community to get to know each other better. We [realized that] … people we know are having a hard time finding a partner due to the pandemic, so … what better time to bring people together for some casual dating with the hopes of hitting it off with someone[?]”

Furthermore, Santiago opened up about the perpetual struggle of virtual interactions and Zoom calls, considering COVID-19 restrictions. “Trying to navigate our possibilities in the digital world was difficult, but we were able to take inspiration from YouTube platforms such as Cut and Jubilee who were able to conduct their game shows online,” she said. 

Nevertheless, students were amused with the prospect of a virtual game show. After posting an Instagram poll to Anteater TV’s Instagram story, users voted in overwhelming favor of a dating show. 

“It’s really no surprise, granted that dating shows are entertaining, juicy and can also be beneficial for anyone looking for love,” Santiago said.

The second episode is a delightful change of pace. This time, a bachelorette takes her pick from a not-so-garden variety of contestants, and it’s every bit as sincere and adorable as one would expect. Anteaters James Jones (19), Kyle Josafat (20), Francisco Carlos (20), Aidan Brych (20) and Justin Quach (21) join bachelorette Nathania Schwob (19) for an evening of magic tricks, first dates and irrational fears. 

Unfortunately, there is one shortcoming with the show: while the first round is entirely anonymous, its purpose remains unclear, as all five contestants are soon revealed by the beginning of the second round. Arguably, the purpose of a dating game show is for the bachelor’s, or bachelorette’s, selection to be based entirely on the contestant’s responses. In other words, contestants should remain anonymous until the final reveal. Thus, the way “Shoot Your Zot!” currently runs is likely curtailed by the bachelor’s own subjectivities.

Looking ahead, Caulder revealed that they plan to film a few more episodes this winter quarter and possibly four to five additional episodes in the spring. 

“We’re unsure of the game show that will be produced in the years to come, as people will graduate or move on to different things. But, we hope to carry ‘Shoot Your Zot!’ on for as long as we can, and maybe even produce some other shows along with it,” Caulder said.

There’s nothing more to it; “Shoot Your Zot!” is Anteater TV’s cutest (and latest) binge-worthy series by Anteaters, for Anteaters. It’s UCI’s most wholesome, comfort watch — plain and simple. What the YouTube show lacks in profundity is made up for in awkwardly endearing bachelor-contestant interactions. Above all, it’s the perfect predicate to the upcoming Valentine’s Day season. 

As a viewer, it’s easy to see the work, effort and joy dedicated to running the show. Santiago spoke on her perspective as a show organizer. “As of now, we are still in the very early stages of its development, but I’m really excited to see where it will go and the potential relationships it will form for Anteaters! I truly hope to see this show continue if and when we are able to go back onto campus next year — I think it’ll be even more fun to host in person,” she said.

For those hoping to spark a budding quarantine romance of their own, Anteaters can learn more about joining the show on the Anteater TV website and Instagram.

Mia Hammett is an Entertainment Intern for the Winter 2021 quarter. She can be reached at hammettm@uci.edu.