It was only a matter of time. Once The Apprentice hit the airwaves, with its promise of a job in one of Donald Trump's companies, it didn't take much to imagine an analogous show where someone gets fired. With Fox's new show, Someone's Gotta Go, we have that covered. I just want to know one thing. Why?
The answer, of course, is that it will make money. I hope it doesn't, but if tripe like NEXT, Celebrity Rehab and Temptation Island could make it, the odds are good for this video swill as well. Apparently, we like watching people being torn apart. Where once stood colluseums we now have Tivo. Well, Fox's new entry into the reality show morass will certainly deliver.
The premise is simple: Each week, no doubt through some sort of visually entertaining competition, the employees at the featured company will decide which one of their coworkers should get the boot. There will be conflict, intrigue and at the end you get to see some poor schmuck get the axe in the middle of the worst job market in 25 years. Boy! Won't that be fun to watch? The host, an as-of-yet unnamed business consultant, will offer sage advice to the participating companies.
I return to my orginal question: Why?
The reality of America's employment problems is that at 8.5%, we are closing in on double-digit unemployment. Some states are already there. Throw in those who are undemployed and those who just gave up on finding work, and the rates are well past 15%. When we should be looking for ways to keep people in their jobs, Fox comes along and turns firings into entertainment.
Why would a company go for this idea of turning an otherwise mutually-supportive group of coworkers against each other? What do they get out of turning what is perhaps the most difficult thing a manager can do—and one of the most stressful things a person can endure—into a carnival sideshow? Is it free publicity or cash? I don't know. Is there anything done to help the loser? Again, no word on that. What I do know is that those who survive a round of layoffs generally tend to feel guilt at having been retained while others have been fired, and these are people who had nothing to do with the decision. How much worse will it be when it is the workers themselves who make the choice? Will these people ever be the same once the cameras are gone? Will they go back to trusting each other and working well with one another?
I submit to you the answer is no, they will not. The process of going from coworker to competitor for such high and personal stakes cannot be easily or completely reversed. They will now see their coworkers as rivals not to be completely trusted. Nor, will they trust their company's managers and owners as they did. After all, it would be the owner who signed the deal and put them in that situation in the first place.
The Bottom Line
Without trust and mutual support, between your employees and you and amongst themselves, your workforce cannot perform. This kind of show is designed to destroy the cohesiveness of your workforce and undo any of the good that any teambuilding you may have introduced has done. We are not talking about a friendly softball game at the company picnic, but something that goes deep the heart of everyone—their livlihood.
Someone's Gotta Go is a terrible premise for what will prove to be another in a long line of socially damaging reality TV mediocrity. At least they got the name right, though in my opinion it ought to refer to the guy who thought this up and the Fox executive that gave it the green light. Those two definitely gotta go.