Viewers of Nine’s newest show The Briefcase aren’t exactly impressed with the way the episode played out, despite Nine urging audiences to not judge the show by its teaser.
The program aired its first installment last night to an audience of 733,000 across the five metro cities, per OzTAM figures. And while it came in at the fifteenth most watched show of the night behind the likes of MasterChef and Love Child, viewers were still shocked by its contents, with one Twitter user comparing it to watching seagulls fight over a chip.
Like throwing a chip and watching seagulls fight over it they both deserved it #TheBriefcase
— Darren Grant (@spamfilterelite) June 20, 2016
The premise revolves around giving two desperate families struggling to make ends meet a briefcase filled with $100,000. They can keep the lot, give it to the other unknown family or split it in a way they see fit. The twist, however, is that the family has no idea that other family is grappling with the same situation.
The first family we meet is a family of five, where mother and wife Mandy McCracken barely survived a terrible illness that left her a quadruple amputee, not to mention mountains of costs in healthcare.
The other family are Jim and Jenny Carter and their two daughters, whose property in the Grampians was ravaged by bushfires, leaving them with no cash flow and living in a caravan.
Over three days, the families must decide what to do with the money, as they slowly learn more about the other family, even visiting their empty homes and seeing evidence of their hardships.
The families miraculously both arrive at the same agreement – to give the entire $100,000 to the other family – and subsequently both end up with the cash. But not every episode will end so generously, one can imagine.
And according to new reports, the families believed they were going on a different show to the one they ended up on.
According to Fairfax, managing director of programming and production at Nine, Andrew Backwell, said, “We told people we were doing a show called Making Ends Meet, in which we were going to come and speak to them about their financial situation and provide some financial advice”.
Backwell told Fairfax he bought the rights to the show from the US creator Dave Broome, who also came up with the concept for The Biggest Loser, before the show even hit the televisions of America. And while the US version was condemned for pitting a White extremist family against an African-American family, Backwell said the Aussie version was far less severe.
“In America it was more a freak show,” he said.
“We’ve tried to go with average families that have fallen on hard times. Not by being slack or lazy or not giving a shit, but through no fault of their own. You’re going to look at them and feel some compassion.”
But despite this attitude, viewers didn’t take a huge liking to the new program.
Hate these radio/tv shows forcing people to choose between saving themselves or giving to others equally in need. Just awful #TheBriefcase
— Jo Casamento (@jocasamento1) June 20, 2016
@MolksTVTalk making sport of painful situations. Nothing nice about it. Ratings tears grab by dangling a carrot in front of genuine people
— Jo Casamento (@jocasamento1) June 20, 2016
What a distasteful&cruel concept Make a show about subsidizing thecost of prosthetics instead of publicly comparing hardships #TheBriefcase
— Carmelo Costa (@carmelovaurface) June 20, 2016
— Robert. (@FierceRobert) June 20, 2016
Horrible. Could have given each family $100k and done show on the difference it made. Instead turn it into social experiment #TheBriefcase
— Kym Morgan (@kymmorgan15) June 20, 2016
@jocasamento1 it’s absolutely terrible that this is considered entertainment now ?
— Laura A Frenzel (@lauraafrenzel) June 20, 2016
Channel 9, #TheBriefcase is exploitive and frankly pretty slow to watch.. Won’t watch again.
— Charmaine Joy (@JoyCharmainejoy) June 20, 2016
#TheBriefcase: 60 minutes of good people getting put through the wringer
— Steely Dad (@darren_levin) June 20, 2016
Who thought parading around disadvantaged people was a good idea? What a morally bankrupt concept. #thebriefcase
— Nermin Bajric (@nermindotcom) June 20, 2016
— Samuel (@BlogMSSamuel) June 10, 2016
People will say that internet streaming killed Free-To-Air television.
Actually, Free-To-Air television killed itself. #TheBriefcase.
— Sean M Elliott (@SeanMElliott) June 9, 2016
Nine hadn’t responded to B&T’s request for comment at the time of publishing.