The Briefcase, Channel Nine’s new television show, has received a lukewarm response from viewers. In fact, the show has been called cruel and exploitative by many audiences. Channel Nine’s latest social experiment has outraged many viewers who have labeled The Briefcase as the worst show in television history.
'The Briefcase' 2016 Families Are Victims? 'Worst' TV Show Ever? – https://t.co/kqEJHiQxel pic.twitter.com/xyyQhQ0zsk
— AustraliaNetworkNews (@AuNetworkNews) June 21, 2016
Every episode of The Briefcase features two needy families who are each given a briefcase containing $100,000. Each family has the choice of keeping the money for themselves or sharing a portion of the money with the other family. They can also give all the money to the other family if they wish to do so. The two hard-luck families who are ultimately pitted against each other are unaware of the fact that both of them face the same moral dilemma. The families get to know more about each other as the episode progresses, and during the course of the show, each family featured on the program visits the other family’s house to understand their unique situation.
Audiences can even hear the couples discussing their dilemmas amongst themselves as they struggle to decide the best course of action. The International Business Times reports that the first episode of the program features two Australian families who were battling to make ends meet.
— Daily Mail Australia (@DailyMailAU) June 20, 2016
The families were so needy that it was hard to imagine that either of them would choose to share their money with the other. However, it came as a surprise when both the families agreed to give the entire $100,000 to the other family, thereby ending the show on a happy note.
The second episode of the program was somewhat like a “need versus greed” story, in which one of the families in the episode was desperately in need of a home while the other wanted to expand its charity program. The episode ended with the two families helping each other by sharing some part of the money from their respective briefcases. This goes to show that no two episodes of The Briefcase will be alike as not all families are capable of being as generous as the families featured in the first episode, and each family’s situation will be different.
The New Daily reports that even though most people were happy that two families walked away with Channel Nine’s money on The Briefcase, audiences nevertheless felt uncomfortable judging the two families who had to reveal their moral and ethical choices in front of the audiences.
The Briefcase was ranked at No. 15 in the list of the most-watched Australian shows, with 733,000 viewers concentrated in the metros. Some of the most caustic reactions to the show came from social media. According to Australia Network News, the negative comments on social media suggest that the show is little more than exploitative and immoral.
Some commenters accused the creators of manipulating people while others recommended that viewers refrain from watching the show altogether. Similarly, the families on the show claim that they have been duped into participating in the show because they were told that they would be a part of an observation show called Making Ends Meet that would explore the pressures involved in keeping the household running effectively. In the end, the families who expected to receive financial advice found out that they were a part of a social experiment.
— Canberra Times (@canberratimes) June 20, 2016
One reviewer described The Briefcase as “poverty porn at its worst,” as the show entertains the audiences at the expense of two struggling families.
According to News Australia, Andrew Blackwell, the production head of the program, agrees that deceit was used to get the families to participate in the show.
However, the Channel Nine executive was quick to defend the show by stating that there was no harm in concealing the facts if someone needy is going to benefit from it. Blackwell is of the opinion that The Briefcase is a milder version of the original U.S. show that featured lazy families who failed to earn empathy from the viewers. The Australian version instead featured families who have genuinely fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, which the network felt would cause the show to be better received than the U.S. version.
AD News reports that the Channel Nine executive spoke about his optimistic views regarding the show, which has yet to garner a big share of viewership.
“I think we are going to see growth for the show. It’s a lot like Married at First Sight.”
Given the dramatically negative feedback the show received after its first two episodes, it remains doubtful as to whether The Briefcase will end up being the runaway success that the network has predicted.
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