Reprinted from Mike Malloy Website
It all started with "Survivor," where strangers were dropped off on an island and went Lord of the Flies on each other and used a big stick to vote people off the island. This was followed by "Big Brother" which threw another group of strangers into a house with more hidden cameras than in Nixon's wet dream (the better to catch some naughtiness in the hot tub...). These were followed by a myriad of wannabe programs like "The Bachelor/Bachelorette," "the Biggest Loser," and a bunch of shows featuring rednecks. Rednecks driving ice trucks. Rednecks living in the Alaskan wilderness. Redneck toddler beauty pageants. Rednecks fishing for salmon. Millionaire redneck duck callers. You get the picture.
Then there are the "glam" shows about bitchy housewives, mob wives, millionaire dating shows, the vapid lives of C-list celebrities (with some crossover to the addict genre), and the Kardashians. And the vast wasteland of uncategorized shows about hoarders, addicts, people who eat cat fur, little people, little real housewife people, body mutilators, naked people in the jungle, people with dozens of kids, alienated Amish youth, people with multiple wives, multiple personalities...all to fill our bottomless appetite for voyeuristic entertainment. And the irony is that most of these programs air on cable channels that were allegedly developed for a higher educational purpose: The Learning Channel, Bravo, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, and Arts and Entertainment.
What a joke. We've come a long way since Candid Camera, and it ain't pretty. No wonder Americans keep voting a**holes into office -- we've been numbed and dumbed into idiotic stupors.
And just when you think "reality" TV can't sink any lower, out pops a dose of exploitation on steroids from none other than CBS. It's called "The Briefcase" and it pits poor people against each other with the devastating choice of either pulling themselves out of poverty or helping another equally needy family with the money they are given. This is how CBS describes their latest brilliant concept:
"THE BRIEFCASE: How much would you give away?
"The Briefcase features hard-working American families experiencing financial setbacks who are presented with a briefcase containing a large sum of money and a potentially life-altering decision: they can keep all of the money for themselves, or give all or part of it to another family in need."
Such human drama! Let's watch these poor people wrestle with gut-wrenching decisions like whether to help a needy family with an amputee veteran dad and pregnant mom, or do they keep the cash to save their house from foreclosure?
And as a bonus, these folks aren't just poor -- they have prosthetic limbs, are pregnant, and/or are -- wait for it -- little people! What a score for CBS! Poor people with disabilities to boot! This is how The Week describes it:
"The premise is deviously surgical: A family 'experiencing financial setbacks' is given a briefcase with $101,000. That first $1,000 is for them to spend as they'd like, to get a taste of life without constant anxiety about the checkbook. Then comes the twist: The family is presented with an anonymous second family, in economic straits as bad or worse. Family number one then has to decide how much, if any, of the $100,000 to share. They actually go through several iterations of the decision-making process, with increasingly more information provided about the second family's bills, debts, and struggles.
"If Margaret Lyons' summation at Vulture is any indication, the result is pretty gut-wrenching:
"In the two episodes CBS made available for review, the decision weighs incredibly heavily on all participants. One woman is so overcome that she vomits. Everyone talks about health insurance. Several people claim this is the hardest decision they've ever made. Many, many tears are shed. And perhaps unsurprisingly, people demonstrate impressive generosity. [Vulture]
"The final zinger is that, at the episode's conclusion, it's revealed that both families were given a briefcase, and put through mirroring rigamaroles regarding the other."
Oooh -- crying and vomiting? What fun! I'll pop the popcorn. Spouses shaming each other about being generous? Life-altering decisions about paying medical bills? Let's see how this could be even better ... maybe add some mud wrestling? A monster-truck battle?
And I don't know what's worse -- that the billionaire Caesars at CBS think Americans will watch their manipulated, starved savages struggle with their dilemma on the televised coliseum, or the sad fact that they probably will. And where is the mention of the root cause these people are in such dire straits? The unemployment problems, lack of livable wages, poor educational opportunities, exportation of American jobs, devastation of labor laws, shoddy treatment of veterans, and lack of universal health care? And obscene income inequality.