Exploitative or Entertaining? You Be the Judge on the ‘The Briefcase’


On May 27, 2015, CBS aired the first-ever episode of the series The Briefcase.

Every episode of the show features two struggling American families who are suddenly given a briefcase that contains $101,000. In the end, they get to decide whether to keep all the money—or give a portion or all of it to another family in need.

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In order to create tension, every family should assess their current situation and the other needy family’s. Within 72 hours, they have to think whose lives are more worthy of help. But then there’s a catch. None of the family members know that the other family is also given a briefcase with the same amount and the same set of instructions.

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While many think that CBS’s show only depicts corporate greed, others think it is an eye-opener, reflecting the issues of the present era.



Over the years, income inequality has been a problem in the United States, which only gets worse over time since 1928. Aside from that, the costs of living are constantly going up while the average household income has become lower than that in 1999. With that said, shows like The Briefcase have become painfully more significant as it reveals why many people are still struggling to survive.

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The show’s reception has been mostly negative. Nina L. Diamond wrote on her Twitter account, “Dear CBS, The reality show The Briefcase, manipulating people in debt, was obviously created by a sociopath. It’s cruel and sickening.”

“The altruism porn of The Briefcase highlights America’s twisted relationship with the poor,” said another user, Mary Beth Williams.

According to reports, Les Moonves, the chief of CBS, made more than $54 million in the fiscal year of 2014, which means he has made more in a day than the amount of money that every family is competing for.

Yes, the decision of Moonves and other CBS executives to take advantage of the vulnerability of Americans in terms of financial matters and forcing them into such bizarre decision-making situations can be described as just plainly sick.

Nevertheless, we all have our own opinion about The Briefcase. But if we go on with the blaming game, nothing will happen. Hopefully, the show will just serve as a wake-up call. Everybody should move and do his part to get rid of all the economic problems revolving in the country.



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