Some television critics and a lot of viewers are up in arms over CBS’s new reality series, “The Briefcase.”
Detractors are saying that the show takes advantage of the poor by forcing its financially-challenged contestants to make very stressful decisions, and pits poor families against each other.
At this time, nearly 14,000 people have signed an online petition requesting that CBS cancel the show.
It should be noted that the petition includes the signatures of people who live outside the United States, where the show hasn’t aired.
So, what’s the deal with “The Briefcase”?
The show hands a family a briefcase with $US101,000. But there are strings attached.
The family also learns of another cash-strapped family and are given the option to keep the money or give some or all of it to the other family. What both families don’t know is that each has been given the same amount of money and the same moral dilemma.
“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,” wrote Vulture TV critic Margaret Lyons.
She goes on to ask, “How much struggle are we expecting everyone to endure? And how much are we exploiting that struggle by turning it into entertainment?”
The creator of “The Briefcase,” David Broome (who also created weight loss show “Biggest Loser”), defended his show to the New York Post. He said the series is less about money and more about forming connections between strangers.
“Don’t tell me this is taking poverty-stricken people and pitting them against each other,” says a defiant Broome, who appears on-camera giving the briefcase to the Bailey-Stewarts. “I don’t want the media portraying it like that. We’re taking two typical middle-class families — that’s the starting point for us … and to see headlines about ‘poverty-stricken people being pitted against each other’ … that’s horrifically sad and misleading to the real poverty-stricken people in this country.
A CBS representative declined to comment for this story.
“The Briefcase,” which airs on Wednesdays, currently averages a 1.07 rating in the advertiser-coveted Adults aged 18-49 years old and 5.7 million viewers after just three episodes.
Watch a trailer below:
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