Cancel Reality Show that Exploits Low-Income Families

Target: Nina Tassler, President of CBS Entertainment

Goal: Cancel show that exploits the dire financial straits of low-income families for entertainment.

Families living in poverty are being forced to decide between keeping $101,000 or donating the money to another needy family on a new CBS reality show called “The Briefcase.” This is a disgusting low in television programming. Demand that this show be cancelled and pulled from the airwaves at once.

How any television executive could think that this program was a good idea is astounding. Each episode features two cash-strapped, debt-ridden families living on the brink of financial ruin who are told they will participate in a documentary about money. Without notice though, a producer arrives at each family’s door and gives them a briefcase containing $101,000.

Each family is then told that they can either “keep all of the money, keep some of the money, or give it all away” to “another family in need.” Neither family is aware that the other is dealing with the same decision. What ensues is an hour-long spectacle of guilt, emotion, and argument as each family decides what to do with the money—either keep it for themselves and resolve their financial issues, or do what is implied to be “the right thing” and donate it to the other family.

This show is nothing but poverty pornography. CBS sits on a net value of $30 billion and thinks it is appropriate to emotionally manipulate and traumatize low-income families for amusement. Sign the petition below to demand that CBS cancel this utterly loathsome program at once.


Dear President Tassler,

I am writing you today regarding “The Briefcase.” This program is disgusting. You and your network should be ashamed of yourselves.

I know it must be hard for you to comprehend given your position as the head of a division of one of the largest media corporations in the world, but low-income Americans are, in actuality, people. They are real individuals with real lives and real problems. Money is not some abstract concept to these people–it’s not some game. The lack of it—so often through no fault of their own—is a real life-or-death issue for these people and their families.

That you would find it at all appropriate to exploit that reality for the purposes of entertainment is utterly evil. These families are not your playthings to jerk around and manipulate to get a rise out of so that you can put on “good television” and make a profit by selling airtime to the credit card companies and banks that in all likelihood are the reason these families are on the brink of financial ruin in the first place. They deserve dignity and respect like anyone else.

Unless CBS has started appointing robots to be heads of its divisions, you are human. Presumably you have a heart. Act like it. I demand you cancel this show at once.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Milad Mosapoor

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