The creator of the new CBS reality show The Briefcase, which documents what happens after presenting two families with $101,000, says that it’s unfair to say his program “pits poor families against one another.”
“It’s not about the money. The show has very little if anything to do with money,” says The Briefcase’s Dave Broome, best known for creating The Biggest Loser for NBC. “It’s about love, communication within your marriage, finding a common bond between another family that might be incredibly different than yours. That’s what show is about.”
Broome said he set out to make an “aspirational” show about the middle class, which “struggles every day.” The show that debuted May 27 has already been labeled “controversial” and “exploitative.”
“I do not understand any criticism saying people who are poor or poverty striken are being pitted against each other,” Broome told EW. “There is no pitting against each other. Most people don’t understand that two families were both given $101,000 each, and no one who is criticizing the show understands the families are middle class, and that we are talking about issues that have very little to do with the decision being made about a briefcase. It’s more about coming together in your life, in your marriage, or finding this bond with another family who has a different lifestyle.”
Broome says families were thoroughly vetted to get a “clear picture of their true financial position.” Tax returns and pay stubs were reviewed.
“It’s designed to be placed in deserving middle class families,” Broome said. “I didn’t want to do it with poor people, and I didn’t want to do it with wealthy people, because people would [question] whether they really deserve it.”
“I have to be honest,” he continues. “Reality TV gets a bad taste in most people’s mouths. I understand where that comes from. Reality TV is accused of being fake and phony. Here I am, putting a show on TV that’s as real and raw as it gets, and as inspirational as it gets … we had amazing focus test results. Hundreds of people who saw the first two episodes said it was one of most aspirational shows they have ever seen.”
On tonight’s episode of The Briefcase, Josh and Susan Scott from Mechanicsville, Maryland decide whether to use the money to adopt a child. Here’s an exclusive clip:
The Briefcase airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.