''I feel like I'm watching people get beheaded.'' That's the way one woman describes her time on Does Someone Have to Go?, Fox's mean-spirited new reality series. Perhaps coincidentally, her line also captures how it feels to watch the show itself.
Does Someone Have to Go? began life in 2009 as Someone's Gotta Go, a series that promised to highlight a different dysfunctional company every episode. At the end of each hour, one unlucky employee would get the ax. This retooled version softens some of the original's edges, changing its title into a question and altering its format. Now every company gets two hours of screen time: In the first, employees are asked to single out three of their coworkers for possible termination. In the second, the ''bottom three'' must plead to keep their jobs. Their managers ultimately decide who, if anyone, will be forced to leave the company at the end of the episode.
Since Fox only provided reviewers with the first half of the first company's saga, it's tough to say what tone Someone's secondary segments will strike. Maybe they'll end on a note that's affirming and uplifting, much like fellow fixing-the-workplace series Restaurant: Impossible and Undercover Boss. But given what this first episode holds, that seems unlikely. 16 office drones at Illinois's Velocity Merchant Services spend the hour sniping both in front of and behind one another's backs, complaining about who's a slacker and who's a tyrant and who got her job just because she's the boss's mom. They're like a group of catty 7th graders outfitted with Blackberries and benefits packages and watching members of the gang complain about each other is both unpleasant and tedious.
If Someone began and ended with this grievance-airing, it might appeal to those who like their reality TV sprinkled with a healthy dusting of bile. (Looking at you, Celebrity Apprentice fans.) But it's tough to enjoy the proceedings knowing that one or more of these people may actually lose their jobs. Rooting against an established villain playing an elaborate game like Survivor or The Amazing Race is one thing; rooting to see a real person rendered unable to support his or her family is quite another, even if that person seems like a jerk. Perhaps Fox could benefit from following the show's lead find whoever suggested reviving this series, then ask them to pack their things and leave the office. D