Have you heard of the new CBS show The Briefcase yet? If you have, have you decided wether you find it sickening or intriguing? Entertaining or savage? I found myself contemplating these questions when I first saw the show. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77lUAy8vwTo[/youtube] The show is about two families who are struggling financially. The families are each given a briefcase with $101,000. They are led to think that this is all their money until the producers explain the responsibilities that go with the briefcase. The families are told that they can keep the money for themselves, give all of it away to another family in need or keep some and give some. The two families are unaware that the other family was given money as well to make the same choice.
An article I read on the Huffington Post website called this show “poverty porn”. When I heard about the show it kind of reminded me of the Hunger Games. The Briefcase is showcasing these people who are in need and struggling to make ends meet and CBS is making a game of it. If wondering how you’re going to live day by day isn’t enough for these families then they’re thrown into making the decision of being selfish and keeping money for themselves to help their families or to be generous and help another family in need. The show makes people question themselves and their morals on top of their financial struggles. I don’t think that is fair. If the company has so much money to give away then why must they make a show in order to give that money away? Why cant they just give it away to the people who are in need? Entertainment.
I have not seen an article that is in favor of the show but CBS still plans to continue airing it. They are holding to the fact that they are working on showing ‘what matters most’, in hopes that the families will be more giving. In an article on Vigilante Citizen they made a great point:
“The show is however not about addressing the cause of this problem or to attempting to fix any of it. It is about dangling money in the faces of people in need and making them beg and cry for it. While this is happening, the producer of the show is in the background whispering : “Yes, yes, cry for that money. I want a closeup of these tears. Yes, now become angry and confused. That’s good TV. Nice. Explain how you’re worried about your debts and the future of your family. Yes, more tears! That’s the money shot!””
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I feel sorry for the individuals on the show because they do make some selfish comments and it makes them look like horrible people. This is a decision that should be made between a family, not a family and for the rest of the whole world to see.
In Gendered Lives by Julia T. Wood I read about gender-based misinterpretations in communication, but I specifically looked at the point of the story misunderstanding, because of the show. Basically what the point of the story refers to is that men prefer to have conversation that follows a linear pattern and has a clear point to the the story. Women prefer to analyze every possible detail of the situation or story. This is was a common pattern when watching the show. In the first episode, the families each had working women and stay at home dads. I noticed that both of the fathers in the families wanted to give the money away because they didn’t want to be selfish and they felt that the other families needed it more.
Upon their wives discovering this the women were not happy. The women were pulling out their bills and going over their debts with their husbands to try and convince them to keep more money. Focusing on every detail while trying to convince their husbands. This caused a lot of tension between the couples because the men did not care about the details. They cared about setting a good example and doing the right thing. Until their wives guilted them with the fact that they are working overtime and need a break and that their husbands should care about their family and not someone else’s. (It got kind of ugly) Upon the women finding out more details about the other families they both agreed with their husbands and they each gave all of their money away.
I think that in the first episode it worked out well for the two families because they broke even. I talked to a friend about the second show and the families did not break even. One family received $120,000 and the other received $80,000 It is still a lot of money but I don’t think it is worth the stress and possible public humiliation. I found it interesting that the mothers were more selfish when it came to keeping the money for their families and they men were more sympathetic towards the other families. It seemed to me that men were sticking with pride and women were sticking with their families which is something we have also covered in Gender Communication. I think the show can be a good example for how men and women communicate differently and how they handle the situation at hand while comparing them with gender norms. I do not plan to watch the show because I don’t believe it is right, even if the families do break even.