This season CBS premiered their newest real-life reality show (as opposed to a scripted, obviously fake one,) and it’s so far shaped up to be pretty darn good. It’s called Undercover Boss and it purports to show the experience of CEO’s that go into their own organizations as entry-level workers. It’s a pretty darn good show, but it’s so close to being great it’s almost painful.
In the first episode, the CEO of Waste Management, the largest garbage disposal company promoted their campaign and then unexpectantly went incognito to check out his organization from the inside. Then it was the CEO of Hooters, and the the CEO of 7-11. It’s a clever setup, that the guy at the very top will get to see what life is really like at the very bottom, but there are a few critical elements missing to make this “reality show” actually come down to reality.
The show is really apropo right now because of all the anti-corporate sentiment so rife in America. We get it, corporations bad – working people good… but can’t we take it a bit further than that?
Go Deeper Undercover, Boss
The problem is that the cameras are rolling the exact day the “new guy” shows up, so everyone is on their best behavior and things aren’t exactly as they should be. As a long-time Hoaxmaster general myself, I can tell you that the way they they’ve setup these undercover operations has been pretty good, but it’s far from great.
Here are the ways you do it:
– Cameras need to come in 1-3 days (at minimum, though a week or two is better) before the “new hire” undercover CEO shows up. This lets him be “just a guy” that works there, rather than a part-and-parcel component of the camera crew.
- Better Cover for the CEO. He shouldn’t be part of the camera crew, he should be a transfer from a podunk location that isn’t savvy, but wants to learn. He should be an afterthought (or irritation) to the process… Like, “Oh man, we have to deal with the camera crews AND train this new guy from Buffalo?”
The CEOs need to tone down the transient lifestyle. Instead of a $90/day rental car, they should be rolling in the lowest cost model available, or a bought wreck for the week. If we can’t keep it real, guys, we at least have to keep it believeable.
If we had a CEO that was truly undercover, we could get so much more insight. Forget how frank the layfolk in the factory are willing to be when they know a camera is rolling, but show us what they say when they forget the camera is on, or when they don’t know it’s there in the first place.
My biggest complaint is the prologue where they show what ultimately happens to all the central characters from the episode, and even a child can tell you these captioned freeze-frames don’t tell nearly enough of the end story. We all get how the companies profiled profit, but what really happens to the characters we’ve rightly been told to fall in love with? They have got to be more specific, or skip them altogether, because what we’re getting now is entirely unfulfilling, even considering they had the benefit of a camera crew on hand to keep them on best behavior.