Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Fox shows bad taste in exploiting unemployed, but with a twist, could be entertaining

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Originally published on on Thu, 04/09/2009 – 9:49am

There are many who are hurting in this recessional depression — and perhaps no one has been hit worse than broadcast television. You would think in times of trouble that people would turn to broadcast television for love and support.

But you’re not. And they don’t know why. It could be because they run tons of stupid reality shows or cancel promising series after one or two episodes or have product placement — Pepsi rocks — in the middle of a program or yank episodes on a whim or stagger starting times so you miss the beginning or end of your show.

Fox, kings of the reality show, is trying to reach out to those who are suffering from being unemployed by shining the reality spotlight on those losing their job in its new reality show, “Someone’s Gotta Go.”

We’ll let The Associated Press describe the show:

Each episode will feature a company with about 15 or 20 employees that needs to cut costs because of the economy. Instead of the boss deciding who is fired, the company will open its books to show everyone’s salaries and let the employees make the call.

On the surface, this seems outrageous, insensitive, and cruel. But Fox is counting on the 24 million Americans who are unemployed or working part-time but available for full-time work as an audience. Heck, this week’s “American Idol” episode drew just under 17 million, and it’s a giant hit.

But perhaps people who are unemployed or working part-time may not want to relax by watching other people in a “reality” situation lose their jobs on television. To be fair, Fox says the laid-off worker will get a small severance, and the rest of the people get to be on TV and keep their jobs.

As seemingly obnoxious and distasteful as this program sounds, Fox is on to something, but they need a slight twist in the concept. Since I’m getting paid as much as the “writers” of these reality show — oh wait, there are no writers — here are my notes (TV term) on how to improve the show.

— Great idea, but instead of going to a small company, I envision going to a TV network and getting all the programmers together in a room. Yeah, this sounds good. Then we have them run through a series of humiliations — nothing worse than watching 7 straight hours of “According to Jim” — and the winner gets fired. And here’s the best part — no severance.

— Or we can go the charitable route. Go to that same small company, and be there when they are getting laid-off. Then come in at the last minute, and announce that the network will pay them salary for 6 months, including benefits. Then we film the reactions of the workers that they can actually pay their mortgage and feed their kids while they have time to look for a job.

— We go up to an AIG executive or some other big shot from some bank or insurance company who is leaving, and we get them to agree to donate their bonuses/golden parachutes to those who are unemployed and truly struggling financially. We put the executive in the home of someone who has been unemployed for 6 months, and leave them alone for a week, and film the verbal abuse the executive takes.

Yes, idea #2 will cost a little more than ideas #1 and #3, but has the potential to be more rewarding. And the budget would still be lower than a scripted show. But ideas #1 and #3 are more in line with the abusive, cheap, and tawdry of modern “reality” shows consistent with our networks’ effort to spend as little as possible to get people to buy products they don’t need.


Written by democracysoup

April 9, 2009 at 9:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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