At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I fear that reality television is one step closer to gladiatorial, Running Man-type stakes with the announcement that the Fox Reality channel is seeking “one incredible risk-taker who engages in the gamble of a lifetime by selling everything he or she owns to make one epic bet on a Vegas roulette wheel’s red or black” for a show called Double or Nothing.
For the sake of an audience’s ephemeral entertainment, Fox Reality and production company LMNO is enticing a fellow American to either double (not times 10 or 100? just double? ridiculous) their net worth or to reduce it to zero.
Perhaps the follow-up series will giddily trail the loser as he/she compares the amenities of various homeless shelters.
The producers want you to know they aren’t just amoral cads preying upon foolish adrenaline junkies by noting they are only looking for single men and women, 21 and older, with no dependents, who are, get this, “financially and mentally sound.” “Finalists will undergo a full risk management background check,” the announcement adds helpfully.
They don’t think people will be much interested in watching the poor or the insane take the challenge.
“We’re looking for a person who is willing to take this life-changing risk because they understand that it’s just money,” said executive producer Eric Schotz. “This is a terrific opportunity for someone who has reached a certain point in their life where they’re ready to shake things up.”
I personally don’t see doubling your money as “life-changing,” though that description would certainly fit being cast headlong into penury. Too bad we don’t have debtor’s prison anymore: that would be more fun even than the homeless shelter!
And speaking of risk, gambling expert and author of the annual American Casino Guide, Steve Bourie, says it’s a sucker’s game anyway. “Anyone willing to risk their entire net worth on one spin of a roulette wheel might be better off spending that money on a rehab program because they probably have a problem,” said Bourie.
“It’s especially interesting that the producers of this show will have their contestant play red or black on a roulette wheel,” he continued. “Most people believe that a player has a 50-50 chance when making this bet, but the casino advantage on a double-zero wheel is 5.26%. Therefore, the producers are forcing someone to wager everything they own on one of the worst bets in the casino.”
But I am certain the producers of the show will have no lack of rubes from which to select their victim, I mean contestant; and when the last barrier is broken and the call goes out for bloodsport participants — with the proper indemnifying caveats of course — I’m sure there will be no lack of willing fatted calfs for that as well.