I tried to watch Oprah's Big Give last night, but I was cringing most of the time.
I have a disconnect with the premise. The show is a fundraising contest. Who can raise the most money the fastest and the best. That would be fine if the funds were being raised to help an organization or a town.
The problem is that there are real people who need those funds and they are at the mercy of the players in this pathetic little game.
Basically, there are ten contestants who compete to see who can be the biggest giver. Each week someone will be voted off the show by the judges for not giving enough. That alone is a good reason not to watch in the first place.
No one should be judged for making an honest effort to help someone in need.
To turn raising money for desperate families into a contest is very demeaning to the people who are supposedly being helped.
Desserving people with heartbreaking stories have been reduced to game pieces on a Monopoly board.
The contestants were paired into five teams for the first week. Each team had a picture of the person they were assigned to help, along with a clue about that person.
As they took off in their SUVs, it wasn't clear whether or not the teams had their needy person's address. Did they have to find these people without knowing where they lived, or what? And why? One team never found their needy person until the second day. What was any of that about?
It was also not clear why the contestants needed to have a clue about the person they were helping. Why a clue? Why not a bio? When each team finally found their deserving person, the contestants just asked them a bunch of questions and found out everything they needed to know. So, again, what was the clue for?
As a result, right at the top of the show the contestants seemed to be off on a meaningless treasure hunt to find the people they're supposed to help. With a dumb clue about the person that never seemed to be relevant to anything.
Back to the idea of the show: people competing against each other to see who can give the most to help change someone's life. I kept having to remind myself of that becauseof all the crap that got in the way. The editing wasn't much help either.
The first disconnect for me is that the contestants only have five days to finish their assignment. Five days. That amount of time isn't enough to help someone properly. Unless all that matters is money. And five days isn't enough time to raise the huge amounts of money these needy people required.
For instance, one pair of contestants had five days to get one person's huge mortgage paid off. Another pair wanted to get their worthy person's huge student loan paid off. Another pair had five days to raise money for a new recreation center for a huge number of handicapped kids.
In the end, all the teams raised money, but mostly, it wasn't enough to get rid of the whole debt. Like I said five days isn't enough time to help people properly. The handicapped kids got a new rec center donated that they could use for six years. That may have been the most successful effort. I wasn't around for the lady who had a mortgage to pay off after her husband had been murdered. Ironically, by then I'd already switched to Law & Order.
The second disconnect is that the measure of giving seems to be primarily financial -- as long as the contestants also demonstrate enough caring to tug at the judges' heart strings. People who give their time don't count in this competition.
The one contestant that figures out how to give away the most money to their weekly designated deserving person in the most heartwarming, caring way, will win in the end. Not too cynical.
It also turns out that the winner will end up with a million dollars, although the contestants don't know that yet.
Here's my next disconnect: as I mentioned at the outset, each week someone is eliminated because the judges decide he or she hasn't given as much or as well as the others.
Have I mentioned that the judges are a chef, a pro football player and a comedian's wife? Enough said.
The problem with Oprah's Big Give is that the show thinks it's like Extreme Makeover, but it's set up like American Idol. Extreme Makeover has no losers, only winners. American Idol is nothing but people losing. That's my biggest problem with the premise of the show. Like I said, no one should be designated a failure who legitimately tries to help another person.
Why should contestants be ridiculed, then punished for failing to raise enough money to make a difference in someone's life?
We don't need Oprah's Big Give for that. We already have the Catholic Church.