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[UPDATED] CBS’ New Reality Show The Briefcase Is An Exercise In Horrible Taste

Because what the poor really need is emotional manipulation?

In a move that’s straight up thisclose to a real-life Hunger Games, CBS is airing a show called The Briefcase, a reality show in which poor families are offered a briefcase filled with $101,000 and given the choice to keep it all, share it with another deserving/competing family on the show, or give it all away. And because watching people make a decision isn’t “interesting enough television,” they will be fed information about the other families along the way to emotionally manipulate them for our enjoyment. So, pretty much no matter what decision they make, they’ll end up feeling shitty about some aspect of it.


Here’s the kicker: there are actually two briefcases! So basically, family is pitted against family for no good reason other than some kind of weird, unnecessary social experiment. Here’s the thing, we already know that poor and middle-class people tend to give more to charity percentage-wise than wealthy people do. What’s more, the wealthy have steadily been giving less to charity the past few years. It makes sense, since poor people actually see other poor people around them, so empathy can kick in pretty hard. Meanwhile, I guess that’s how the rich stay rich.

Especially infuriating is that CBS obviously has all this cash to burn. Can’t they just…give poor families money and see what they do with it and how they handle it without playing around with their emotions and examining their morality for sport? Or they could just, you know, give the money to these families and not try to make a show out of it. Would revenue brought in by your prime-time line-up not cover a little actual charity, CBS?

Income inequality is at an all-time high in the United States, and there are riots in the streets boiling over in our most under-served communities. It’s funny, the other day I saw a tweet that said something to the effect of Rich white people see rioters in Baltimore and call them criminals. Watch Hunger Games and say “Katniss is so brave!” Uh-huh.

We’re all in this together, and taking care of each other is paramount. The last thing any of us need is a show that pits in-need family against in-need family for the entertainment of the masses and to the benefit of the wealthy.

[UPDATED 4/30 3:50pm] – Executive Producer for The Briefcase, David Broome, sent me an email in response to this post, which he gave me permission to reprint in full:

Hi Teresa

This is Dave Broome- I’m the executive producer and creator of THE BRIEFCASE on CBS.

I saw your post about the show and felt I needed to set some things straight.

You have the completely wrong spirit of what this series is all about. The BRIEFCASE is nothing short of inspirational.

The families on the series are not POOR- they’re you’re typical MIDDLE CLASS hard working family and through the daily grinds of life, might have lost what really matters most to them.

I would ask that you watch the premier episode on May 27 and see if you still feel the same way. I’m quite positive you won’t.

The series will change lives and inspire others around the world.

Best Regards
Dave Broome

He then added the following:

@broome88 is my twitter- happy to take people venting on me on my twitter :)

The show truly is remarkable- and just so you know how uplifting it is, the show is being marketed and promoted through many faith based sites- that’s how strongly we feel about the message.

(via The AV Club)

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