Friday, May 29, 2015

Why I don't watch 'prime time' anymore. . .

OK. So. My ridiculous voyeuristic streak led me to tape The Briefcase, and I didn’t watch it until today. I’m having that streak burned out as soon as we can afford it. What. A. Joke. If you haven’t watched this cluster-bomb, here’s the premise – two ‘needy’ families are presented briefcases with $101,000. They can spend $1k, no strings attached, but as for the rest, they can choose to keep all, some, or none, whatever they don’t claim goes to another needy family. They don’t know at first that each family gets the same briefcase, has the same decision – to each family, they’re deciding someone else’s future, they don’t know the others are just as enmeshed in theirs. The true hook comes in later – they come to know the family who’ll get their unclaimed funds. Even prowling around each other’s empty as-is homes before meeting them face-to-face. Ugh. Then, after they’ve made their decision, they get to tell the other family what they decided, again, face to face. Words fail me. . . just like when one family mamma licked and stuck a $100. bill to her face, laughing.  (yes, all I could remember was Ben Franklin, had to look up what denomination he’s on)

Thing is, at least in the premiere episode, both families weren’t that bad off. One was living in a huge home, the other was having a new home custom-built. You could feel the desperation in their dyed hair, designer purses, big trucks, and snowmobiles, clearly these people were on the edge. Seems like both families could have used a big ole dose of counting their blessings instead of crying ‘poor me, poor my family’ over and over. 

And it kind of ranks, because the show presents these people as being in need. Um, what ? These are the lucky ones ! Where’s the single parent trying to figure out which utility gets paid, and what gets shut off ? Where’s the family standing in line at the food pantry, praying they still qualify for rent assistance after Mom got a 25¢ /hr raise last month ? Is anyone on this creepy show not living in a nice house with a new car ? The families here gave each other the full amount, but what happens if one family decides to keep the wad and the other decides to give it up ? Does Greedy G. get $200K and Noble L. get nada ? It just seems like this is something the higher brackets can point to and think this is ‘poor’ when actually, each family was considerably quite past poverty before some ill-considered ‘reality’ show dumped $101K in their laps. 

Maybe I missed the point, maybe the later episodes won’t be so ridiculous. But I already know they’re going the Wife Swap route, pairing gun-nut conservatives with a same-gender couple in a future episode (if it isn’t cancelled by public ridicule by then), so I kinda doubt it. I just hope this show wasn’t trying to put a face on American Poverty, ‘cause they missed by about two parsecs.

1 comment:

  1. I saw ads for this show and thought it would be a waste of time no matter what.
    I think the trouble with using really poor families is that when you have a legitimate need for the money there's no choice to be made unless you value your own loved ones less than strangers which doen't make sense no matter what you're told about them.
    If you've got a leaky roof, a dead-end job and kids with no college funds, you'd legitimately need to keep all that money and then some.
    So, right off the bat the families have to have a lot of leeway financially or they'd look like fools if the gave any of it away. But then, why give them money?
    This is going to be like Extreme Makeover Home edition where if the family truly was poor how could they afford the upkeep on a home four times as big as the one they couldn't take care of in the first place?