Must See Reality TV: The Briefcase on CBS

I recently had the opportunity to see a sneak peek of “The Briefcase,” a summer docu-series that premieres tonight (Wednesday, June 27, 8-9pm ET/PT) on CBS. The premise for the show seems pretty enticing. Give two deserving middle class families a briefcase that contains $101,000 and let them know that they can keep all of the money or give some or all of it away to a family who may need it more than them.
At first glance, I think that if a briefcase full of money showed up at my doorstep, I would take it all, finally go on that vacation I’ve been planning in my mind, pay my bills and put the rest away for my kids’ college fund. But that’s not how the show works. Unbeknownst to the families, they are not the only ones who receives the money. A second family gets it too — the one they are actually contemplating giving the money to and throughout the show, each family finds out a little bit more about their financial troubles until they have to grapple with the decision of how much they want to give one another. Take a look…

The two families featured in the first episode are the Bronsons and the Bergins. The Bergins appear to be living a nice life with three teenage girls and a beautiful home, but once you go inside, you learn they are in an incredible amount of debt, with a failing ice cream truck business and mounting medical bills…and they don’t have health insurance!
The second family is the Bronsons, a young couple with a second baby on the way who live in a fourth floor walk up apartment. The husband is an Iraqi war vet who lost his leg during the war and cannot work. As a result, his wife works full time as a nurse as she prepares for the birth of their child. Both are middle class families, and each deserve that amazing briefcase full of money – the question is, how much will they each keep or give away?
We recently interviewed the show’s creator and executive producer, Dave Broome who is best known as the creator of the reality TV phenomenon, “The Biggest Loser.” Here’s what he had to say about “The Briefcase”:
My Unentitled Life: What gave you the idea to come up with a show that helps two different families if they choose to?
Dave: I’ve always wanted to do something that dealt with values and what matters most in our life. I was thinking of how to do that in an emotional and a dynamic way, and I used the lottery as an analogy. We all have that dream that if we scratch off that lottery ticket and won, what would we do with that money? If you have the opportunity to win that lottery ticket with a mirror in your face and you have to look at your life through it. At the end of the day, that’s what the show is all about. This has nothing to do with the money. The money plays a little part in this — what really matters is what matters most to you in your life. What might you have or what might you be taking for granted as a person inside.
RoleMommy: In the first episode, you see two families who are incredibly generous to one another. But does that happen in every episode? Will we see episodes where a family doesn’t give any money away?
Dave: You will see some disparity in future episodes but the tone doesn’t change from what you’ve seen in the first one. The reason is that both of these families in every episode go through a tremendous roller coaster ride of not just emotions but evaluation of their life. And by design, we wanted to pick families that can justify any action they do – there’s no right or wrong. This show is not meant to judge people’s actions.
RoleMommy: What do you hope this show is going to do for viewers?
Dave: This will be talked about on Thursday morning. People are going to say, did you see that, did you watch it? My hope is two things — people like myself, when I got into my car every night and I would literally look in the rear view mirror and question myself. I would sit there and go — yeah – we all want to think we’re good. We all want to try to be good people. Are we doing enough — and that’s a very individual conversation — I want someone to watch the show and question themselves. And if they come to that conclusion that they do, then great. If they come to the conclusion and say, no I don’t, I could do more. And it’s not about giving money away. But I want people to question it – what really matters is your love.
We will be sharing more from our interview with Dave Broome but now, we want to invite you to watch the show and join us for a live tweet up tonight from 8-9pm ET. Make sure you follow all the twitter handles below and get ready for a special twist: Throughout the hour, we will be giving away $250 in gift cards. But it’s up to our winning participants to decide if they’d like to keep the money for something special or give it away to someone in need.
Dave Broome will be tweeting throughout the show along with Jill Schlesinger, CBS News Money expert who will be offering important financial tips for families. Jill recently wrote about her experience watching The Briefcase on her own blog too.
And here’s your cheat tweet if you’d like to join the party:
What feels better: To give or receive? Find out 2nite @TheBriefcaseCBS live twitter event! Wednesday, May 27 at 8pm ET/PT #TheBriefcase
The Briefcase on CBS – Twitter Event Tonight!
@broome88 (Dave Broom)
@JillonMoney (CBS News Money expert)