Honest to God…I like something on Fox.
I watch TV almost never.
The TV comes on at night (sometimes), when the work and creative time is done. Basketball games, football games, baseball games, maybe a Law & Order will satiate me as I try to wind-down.
But dammit, I found a new show that I mostly like.
TV has sucked the big one for so long, it’s a marvel that it has lasted until now. It’s like the Big 3 auto makers. There’s nothing consumers really want…nothing with substance, or much entertainment value. It should be allowed to die so that we can get on with amalgamating our computers and TVs as entertainment/information devices. Enough editorializing.
Secret Millionaire is done in the style of Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, with the constant story-line spoilers, and UNENDING TRAIL OF REPETITION every single time they return from a commercial. Also this one-hour reality series should be 30 minutes long.
Here’s the praise:
I have yet to watch a single episode without getting emotional.
Millionaires begin the show by bragging about their mansions, millions, and gadgets. it’s like MTV’s “Cribs” without famous people.
After this intro happens, we learn that they have volunteered to be sent into a part of the country (near where they live) where they will live in poverty for one week. They will be followed by a film crew. They are to explain to all of the new impoverished community that they are part of a documentary about surviving in Watts, or Compton, or Katrina-ravaged cities, etc.
They then spend time (alone or with their spouse) lying to people in the community, telling them that they are new to the area, on hard times, and are looking to volunteer or get a job. They are also only allowed to spend $127 (approx) on food and toiletries for the week, while living in squalor.
Inevitably, they are greeted by the locals with friendly smiles, and warm words. They quickly find the people in the area making a difference for those whose lives are a constant struggle. They realize how it is to live in a community with violence, or strife, or hunger, or sickness, and they are commonly awestruck by what good, wholesome people are up against. Often times, these folks are in the place they’re in because of incarceration, natural disaster, death, disease, or catastrophe (financial and otherwise), and the sympathy on the faces of the millionaires is real. They are sad. They are crushed. They have a reformed idea of poverty and a new hope for humanity by the time the week is up.
I think this is similar to my trip to El Salvador when I was 18. Seeing the sweat shops, seeing the people toiling in the fields at the break of dawn, meeting those who were injured in civil war…you realize they are normal people in extraordinary circumstances. They are trying. They are surviving. It changes you. It changed me.
So this experience, clearly, changes the millionaire.
They are then obligated, by the contract of the show, to give at least $100,000 of their own money to some of the people/organizations they met/worked with during their time in poverty. I’ve seen the money go to people rebuilding community outreach centres, a woman’s group dedicated to helping grieving woman deal with deaths in the family, a young cancer-sufferer ‘s family who cannot afford treatments, and more ultra-deserving members of the communities involved in this show.
I urge you to check it out.
I think it runs on Wednesday nights.
I still cannot believe that Fox makes a show this worthwhile.