CBS premiered a new reality TV series on Wednesday night called "THE BRIEFCASE."
According to a CBS press release, each week two "hard-working American families experiencing financial setbacks" receive a briefcase filled with $101,000, but have to decide in 72 hours if they should "keep all of the money for themselves, or give all or part of it to another family in need."
The two families secretly tour each other's homes, are told of their various trials in life and informed about their political affiliations (video below).
The families fight and cry among themselves as they try to decide if they should help the other family out. The two families finally meet at the end of each episode to announce their decisions.
THE BRIEFCASE's creator and executive producer Dave Broome said in the press release, “I've been incredibly impressed by just how generous Americans are, even with shrinking paychecks and rising debt, when there’s little left to give.”
AlterNet.org reports that the families "are told they’ll be participating in a documentary about money. Instead, a producer from the show unexpectedly comes to their house with a suitcase full of cold, hard cash..."
"The families are told they have to take the first $1,000 and spend it on themselves, which is basically a way of giving people who've been in dire straits for eons a fleeting taste of the kind of the financially carefree existence they'll soon have to feel bad about wanting. From there on, the show does all it can to ensure the decision over the money is as guilt-ridden and uncomfortable as possible."
"...The whole thing is, in a word, gross. We’re told via voiceover at the show’s outset that, 'All across America, hard-working, middle-class families are feeling the impact of rising debt and shrinking paychecks.' That’s absolutely true, and CBS’s answer to that problem is apparently to exploit those families in ways that startle, even at this stage in the reality TV game."
According to Variety, THE BRIEFCASE "was Wednesday’s most-watched series overall, and its 6.8 million viewers tops all 10 unscripted reality premieres on the Big Four this summer and last."