“I’m about to become the enemy of Carats,” PD Na Young-seok (or Na PD for short) states on one of the episodes of variety show The Game Caterers. In the show, Na PD visits entertainment agencies to “cater” games for them, and its most recent installments on Channel Fullmoon’s YouTube page included three episodes with Seventeen. The games that he “caters” effectively show both individual members’ personalities and team dynamics, especially due to the banter between himself and the guests. The show, especially the Seventeen series, leads the audience to feel connected to the members, and then express that connection by rooting for them to win in their friendly competition with Na PD.
The first Seventeen episode, following Game Caterers’ popular HYBE edition from July 2022 that featured half of the group, is called “Here comes all complete Seventeen.” While previous episodes with individual groups (BTS, Girls’ Generation) jump right into games or interviews with minimal introductions to members, the Seventeen episodes take their time to ensure that viewers know each person. The first episode begins with a 6-minute medley of individual members dancing to different Seventeen songs: Wonwoo, for instance, enters to “Fear” with tiny waves and thumbs up. DK, on the other hand, dances to “Thanks” with exaggerated kneels to the ground. The song medley in the Seventeen episodes serves to highlight the different styles of each individual member.
The interview segments present some lesser known aspects of each member’s personas, appealing both to viewers getting to know the group and to existing fans. Within Seventeen’s own variety show Going Seventeen, Jeonghan is often portrayed as the “cheater” or “Seventeen’s Loki,” but Na PD emphasizes him as the “counselor” of the group. Na PD shared his impression that Joshua was “calm and nice”, but stated that according to “his informants,” Joshua is “not just slightly mad, but completely mad.” The show and Na PD gain credibility by digging beneath the surface of common tropes about members.
Na PD also asks about stories recently appearing in social media to continue to build his connection with the members and to appeal to fans. For instance, Mingyu responds to fan discussion about what and how much he ate during a football game, and DK shares an anecdote about paying for dinner for fans who were sitting near him at a restaurant. Na PD even refers to an inside joke from a 2020 episode of Going Seventeen, asking Dino what kind of razor he used that day. While Na PD and the members laugh together about these jokes, devoted fans likely feel included by these references, and other viewers might feel that they are becoming “in the know” for access. The overall effect is that the audience experiences more of a connection to the group.
Once Na PD has established rapport with the group, he unveils both cooperative and competitive games to show group dynamics. One staple of the show is the Character Quiz game, which involves each player identifying a celebrity in succession. The production team displays a table with ingredients for a meal, and the group loses one for each mistake they make in the game. The first time this happens to Seventeen, they have a heated debate about what to remove before finally settling on bean sprouts. When Na PD comments, “so that’s how Seventeen solves conflicts,” Jun replies, “It’s quite noisy.” If the goal of a variety show is to show groups in a different context, the Character Quiz game does succeed.
In their own variety series Going Seventeen, aside from some 2020 episodes where they battled the production team, members are not often playing in a competitive game together as a full team. The viewer gets to glimpse into how the full team discusses and resolves conflicts, manages losing, and supports one another. By the final round, Seventeen ends up deciding to compliment the person who loses. Jeonghan proposes to Na PD that he allow them to do one more round, for all or nothing. DK misses the question, but in the end, they say, “it’s fun to be with everyone today” – though it’s still quite noisy.
One unique aspect of the show is that Na PD allows guests to bargain with him, usually for some sort of mutually beneficial promotion. In the Girls’ Generation episode, for instance, the members advertise his show Earth Arcade in exchange for playing their music video on his show. In BTS’ episode, Jimin, Jin, and V strike a deal to pay one more round of the Character Quiz in exchange for pork belly, with the members agreeing to promote the YouTube channel if they lose.
In episode 3-1, which aptly has the English title “SVT Gives Producer Nah Mental Breakdown,” Seventeen members don’t bargain, but essentially beat Na PD at his own game. At the beginning of the round, Seventeen members, in teams of 2-3, write down wishes for prizes. Winners of the game (identifying songs and artists) have more chances to draw papers from the wish bag – it turns out that there are 6 wishes and 60 “duds” that offer no prizes. Rather than going for tangible items, most of Seventeen’s wishes involve more experiences with Na PD: having him do a “Super” dance challenge, or creating a rendition of the Youth Over Flowers reality travel show for Seventeen. These suggestions draw applause and laughter from the staff, and visible stress from Na PD himself (“it has like 16 moves in one beat,” he commented about “Super”’s choreography). His reaction brings more tension to the wish lottery, as well as more satisfaction for the audience with the outcome.
Ultimately, it is enjoyable to see idols win Na PD’s games and have their wishes granted, especially because Na PD has built a reputation for keeping his promises. Because they think outside of the box for their prizes, Seventeen manages to not only win food or Dyson hair dryers, but the experience of traveling together they had been seeking for a while (and some members even mentioned appearing on Youth Over Flowers specifically). By the end of the series, viewers have spent a few hours with Seventeen and experienced its ups and downs with the games. Achieving a big win in a friendly competition with Na PD becomes a source of happiness, both for the group and for the audience.