The Briefcase, a brand new reality show premiering on CBS may prove the validity of 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” The show’s main focus is on hard-working families who are struggling financially. These unfortunate souls are presented a gift that would turn their life around. The chosen family is presented a suitcase that contains exactly $101 thousand. Wow! With the national median in the United States is a yearly income of around $50 thousand a year, it is no surprise that a whopping $101 thousand would alter the course of their lives.
There is a catch to the money however. The families are allowed to spend the first thousand dollars in anyway they choose. They could pay off any debts, go to that one fancy restaurant downtown, or maybe buy the grill they’ve been dying for. With the remaining $100 thousand, they are left with a very rough decision. There is another family who they get informed about who are in the exact same financial situation. The “lucky” family is given the choice of whether they will keep the entire $100 thousand, share some of it, or give it all away. They have 72 hours to make their decision and throughout that time period, bits of information on the other family’s struggle will be presented to them at various intervals.
It seems like all these pieces would make the perfect recipe for a heart-warming or anger-inducing reality show, correct? Yes and no. The interesting fact about The Briefcase is not just revealing the roots of several evils in people, but the show has a sinister twist in that both families are given the money. They both are given the briefcase of $101 thousand dollars while thinking the other does not have any at all.
It is television manipulation at its finest. Although the trailer shows some very touching scenes, there are other parts that reveal the true colors of people. The reality show quickly becomes more than just about the money and luxury that comes with receiving a large sum suddenly. It becomes a test of integrity, it reveals the willingness to help, it puts religious and personal beliefs to the test. It’s obvious that some of the pairs were purposefully put together. One gun-crazy, Christian, conservative family is given the opportunity to share some of their reward from the briefcase with a lesbian couple. The father can be heard saying in the trailer, “I believe marriage is between one man and one woman.” Other families who suffer with disabilities are also on the roster for the reality show.
Despite the criticism it has been receiving before officially airing, producer Dave Boom has been answering to various concerns that have been stated about the reality show. According to Boom, the reality show is not meant to be portrayed as a game like most are believing. He points to the fact that there is no official host like most game shows have, just one man who relays information. He believes that with the circumstances that are placed in front of the families, The Briefcase will go in the direction that other unscripted shows should follow. He states the meaning behind the show is that “It’s figuring out what matters most in your life by putting this financial windfall in front of two families that have no idea that they’re both been given a briefcase. It leaves them with a dilemma. They’ve got 72 hours to make this life-altering decision.”
David Boome offers a convincing and profound meaning of the show, but the premiere tonight will allow the viewers to give their own feedback. Will The Briefcase be a heart-warming show on the importance of family, or an allegory to the book of Timothy’s verse, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”?
By Frank Grados
Jezebel – CBS’s ‘The Briefcase’ Manipulates Poors for Kicks, May Do Some Good
People – The Families on The Briefcase Make a Shocking Decision
Yahoo TV – ‘The Briefcase’: CBS’s New Reality Show Offers Families Cash, and a Big Decision
MyBudget360 – How much do Americans earn?
Photo Courtesy of Pictures Of Money’s Flickr Page – Creative Common License
Photo Courtesy of Tax Credit’s Flickr Page – Creative Common License