The $20,000 Pyramid was a television game show that was hugely popular in America during the 1970s. In When You Reach Me, Louisa's mother is practicing for an appearance on the show. The game show fits in with the many of the novel's major themes, such as the search for answers to riddles, puzzles, and mysteries. The premise of the game show – that one can win huge rewards for answering seemingly trivial questions – also lends the novel's characters a sense of hope and optimism. This is especially true for Miranda and her mother, who are no strangers to financial struggles.