I’ve been feeling off my blogging game lately, which is why I haven’t been posting, but how could I not share this story about the worst excuse for a “reality” show I’ve seen yet? I’ve seen a few headlines about this over the past few days so I finally clicked on this story from Alternet, and read about the horror-show called The Briefcase. In short, the show pits two needy families against each other in a televised version of the prisoner’s dilemma in which they are asked to make decisions about how to use a briefcase full of money ($101,000, to be precise). They could keep it, donate some of it, or donate it all – and each family is mislead into thinking that the other family is the one in need of help when in reality they are both playing the same game (that is, EACH family has the same amount of money, but they believe that the other family has nothing). The decisions they make determine how much cash they walk away with in the end. Essentially, if one of the families decides to give all the cash to the other family, but that family chooses to keep all the cash, one family ends up with $200,000 while the other family has nothing. Vox has another take on the show that explains these details (and incidentally, from a viewer’s standpoint, pans the show as boring).
I don’t know what to say about this other than that it fills me with disgust and rage. The rank exploitation of two families who are struggling to keep their heads above water and yet still bravely refer to themselves as middle class is horrifying. To call this entertainment is an insult to every performer who wished to please an audience. To call the executives at CBS who greenlit this monstrosity human strains credulity.
ETA: Here’s another article that really does a good job of expressing how horrible this show is, from Vulture: On The Briefcase, Poor Americans Have to Prove Themselves