I was enjoying a perfectly nice lunch when I ran across this news. Fox announced today that it will debut its latest reality brainstorm, My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss, on November 7.
The premise, as you’ve likely surmised, is a spoof of Apprentice-style reality shows, including, presumably, the one Fox is doing with Richard Branson. Twelve real contestants, “young, overachieving, type-A business professionals,” will face off against an actor playing the boss of a fictitious company. He sounds like he’ll be the epitome of every toxic boss each of us has ever encountered, putting his charges through humiliating tasks and nonsense conversations to confound them and test them. All for $250,000.
And, naturally, there’s a twist.
Acccording to the release today, “What they don’t know is that ‘Mr. Todd’ isn’t the one really making the decisions. It will remain a secret to the contestants until the last elimination that a mystery boss has actually been deciding their fate. In an eye-opening, jaw-dropping turn, the identity of the real boss will be the biggest surprise of all.”
Can we get off this boat please? I’m gonna be sick. How dumb are these contestants? And how dumb are viewers that get pulled into this? Isn’t The Apprentice, right down to its 14th Century title, already a parody, a parody of old-school business practices that we’re all desperately trying to kill? Isn’t everyone but the people on that show already in on the joke?
So why do we watch any portrayal of business on TV? Is it escapism to lampoon the past and take our mind off the all-too-challenging now? Or is it fantasy that we really want to go back to those days of the tough, a—–e boss because at least we knew where we stood?