Fox’s Secret Millionaire
I guess I was really bored last night because I somehow got sucked into watching some of Fox’s Secret Millionaire. When the commercial came on the other day for it, I rolled me eyes, sighed, and shook my head—the trifecta often caused by things like bad infomercials, biased newscasters, and Norbit.
Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with Fox’s hi-jinx, here’s what they did. They took some really rich people and took away all their nice things, made them live on welfare in “the most dangerous neighborhoods” for a week, and then had them give away $100,000. We are told it’s the rich people’s money, but there’s no way of knowing if Fox is fronting that money or not.
Anyway, the show I saw was a father/son team. The father was “rich” because he owned an Aston Martin, a Mercedes, a Bentley, he had owned over 10 airplanes, etc. etc. This was the first thing that irritated me about this show. They kept showing the different millionaires (who each have their own episode) proving to the audience whey they could call themselves “rich.” The most popular answers?
- I have cars: Love that one. At least someone is helping out car companies. Oh wait, most of these are foreign…never mind.
- I’ll drop thousands on dinner: Wow, good for you buddy. This guy actually started his own business from nothing, so I wanted to like him. But put someone in front of a camera and tell him to prove why he’s rich, and watch him turn into a jerk.
Could it be I’m jealous of these dudes? Probably, but let’s not go totally of course. Back to the show…
The cliches abound on this show. The millionaire father of the episode I saw has a gold watch and some gold rings that he takes off and on a lot to show his transformation from poor to rich. He’s also got a weird thing going with a very orange tan. It’s either fake or he needs to put on some sunblock when he’s out on his yacht.
The production values are cheap. You can tell Fox did not want to spend a lot of money here. It looks rushed and haphazard, which doesn’t help when you’re filming a boring millionaire and his sheltered son. The big problem I have with the show is that, as they live their lives as poor people, they meet other folks who are struggling out there and eventually develop relationships. These other people are told that it’s a documentary about poverty and they seem fine with it. They open up rather quickly (less than a week) and become friends (I think).
Then, as the show winds down, the rich dad/son go back home, put their rich clothes on, and go tell everyone the truth. They go to three different people and hand them checks (one got $50k and two got $25k). The handing over of the check is probably the most awkward TV moment I’ve ever seen in my life. You can tell the “poor” people (which we haven’t really gotten to know well at all) want to just beat the crap out of these two, but smarten up and decide (with a fine bit of editing, might I add) that they should just keep the money and let these wackos move on.
When I saw the checks changing hands I was like “really?” Just like that? You’re going to give these people a check for $25k or $50k and that’s supposed to do it? Is that really the best way to help these people? It’s such a stereotypical “rich person’s” solution to the problem.
And that’s where the show really loses touch with reality. Because this is not about helping poor people, it’s about helping the rich people have a life-changing experience and about Fox getting some ratings out of a terrible concept.
And just like that, it’s over.
There was one scene that kind of reminded me of Extreme Home Makeover, but only for a second. That show always makes me cry and, in my opinion, is one of the most perfect shows around. Viewers get to cry/be entertained, advertisers get to show their products off in a novel way, people in need get a new house, and the show’s designers get to show off what they do. It doesn’t get any better than that. Besides, in that show you really get to know the families getting the house. This millionaire show does NOT do that.
But throwing a $25,000 check at someone who is “poor” just doesn’t make sense. I find it insulting that such a temporary solution is shown as being such a fantastic thing. Sure, it will help. But in the long term, nothing will change. It’s a temporary solution to a permanent problem.
OK I’m done talking about this show. Did anyone else see it?