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CBS’ ‘The Job’: Empowering Employment or Exploiting the Unemployed?

Reality TVTonight, CBS premieres its new reality competition show, “The Job”. Producers are billing the show as a “kinder, gentler” reality show meant to empower employment by giving unemployed workers the chance to prove themselves as worthy candidates for positions at top companies. Despite its heartwarming premise, however, critics are skeptical - and for good reason…

While series creator Mark Burnett maintains that the show is unlike other reality shows that exploit or humiliate contestants, the show’s online promo gives off a different impression.  In what looks like a mashup of “Fashion Show”, “Shark Tank” and “Undercover Boss”, “The Job” basically pits five hopeful candidates against one another for the chance to nab their “dream job” (a very lofty way to describe assistant restaurant manager or editorial assistant positions, IMO) at companies like Cosmopolitan Magazine, LiveNation Entertainment and Gilt.

As part of the employee selection process, contestants must endure several rounds of elimination challenges (y’know, candidate screening stuff) and a rigorous round of questions that were clearly designed more for entertainment value than for actual skills assessment.

The only redeeming quality of this show might be (and this is a stretch) the possibility that it will help dispel the myth that unemployed candidates are by nature any less valuable or qualified than currently employed individuals.

What’s more likely, however, is that the opposite will happen: By highlighting these candidates’ weaknesses and showcasing their resume shortcomings, the show will only further the stereotype that unemployed workers are unemployed for a reason. (I can see the comments now: “Maybe instead of trying to go on TV, these contestants should spend their time working on their resumes and apply for real jobs.”)

If these predictions are true, with any luck, “The Job” will meet the same fate as “Made in Jersey” and “Partners”. (Although if there’s one thing “Two and a Half Men” and “Two Broke Girls” has taught us, it’s that, unfortunately, bad TV doesn’t necessarily equal bad ratings).

What do you think? Will you tune into “The Job”? Do you believe this show is a true goodwill effort to provide people with job opportunities? Or is it simply – as Steven Colbert calls it – “despertainment” used to exploit people for ratings and entertainment value?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
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