Fox Reality Chief Previews Does Someone Have to Go?: 'It's Relatable, Emotional, Voyeuristic'

Does-Someone-Have-to-Go-FoxIt takes a certain amount of audacity to build a reality show around threatening a company’s weakest links with some very real pink slips — especially as the nation’s unemployment rate remains stuck in the stratosphere.

And yet as Fox reality chief Mike Darnell talks about tonight’s premiere of Does Someone Have to Go? (9/8c), he claims the process is actually quite “cathartic.”

“We’re not talking about an arbitrary firing,” Darnell explains. “If you watch the premiere, you realize there’s all this pent-up angst within a company. And [the format of the show provides] a cathartic way to get out the issues: Let’s see what everybody thinks of each other. Let’s find out what everybody makes. Let’s figure out what the problems are.”

The series premiere focuses on the family-run Velocity Merchant Services, where the company’s wife-and-husband management team turn over the power to their employees to determine who’s overpaid, who’s undervalued and who needs to get their walking papers. Workers’ “private” confessional videos get revealed to their colleagues, everyone’s salaries are posted on a screen in the conference room and ultimately, three employees end up nominated for termination. Next week’s conclusion finds the at-risk workers pleading for their jobs and final decisions being rendered.

“Part of what makes reality TV work is relatability. And this show is extraodrinarily relatable,” Darnell continues. “[People] always have that sense that the boss doesn’t know who the crappy worker is, [or] who’s doing nothing. And if you had your way, you could point it out and take care of it. That’s why it’s relatable — in addition to being emotional and voyeuristic and all those things that make reality shows work.”

Still, amidst lackluster ratings for recent high-profile entries like NBC’s Ready for Love and ABC’s Splash, does Darnell feel like the reality genre is becoming an increasibly difficult nut to crack? “There’s probably no more failure now than there has been in the last 10 years. Look at last spring-summer: You’ll see there were like 12 reality shows that failed in a row,” Darnell contends.

That said, with cable networks also heavily in the reality game, viewers have “hundreds” of options in front of them, Darnell admits. “Because of that, it’s hard to [generate] too much excitement for something that’s a brand-new, edgy show — ’cause there are probably three new cable shows that sound just as edgy. It’s much tougher now to get noticed.”

And as for any potential pitfalls — legal or otherwise — of the Does Someone Have to Go? concept, Darnell promises that “the i’s have been dotted and the t’s have been crossed” by both Fox and Endemol’s legal teams.

“I didn’t make the legal Bible on it, but look, if you go back 10 years, it seemed like every progression of every reality show would have been impossible to do from a legal standpoint,” Darnell notes. And if any episodes end with an affirmative answer to the show’s titular question, “There is definitely a severance package that would be in line with what they’d normally get.”

Comments (28)

  • So stupid! Please give this genre up networks

    Comment by Boiler – May 23, 2013 09:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Darnell is the same F**ckup that hired the judges for AI, especially Nicki Minaj….he needs to go. He’s ruining Fox.

      Comment by Chicago48 – May 23, 2013 11:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Demoralizing, fake drama and psychologically demeaning. Good job Fox. :-(

    Comment by forwarddad – May 23, 2013 10:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Does someone have to go? Yes. It’s Mike Darnell.

    Comment by Et al. – May 23, 2013 10:38 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I laughed after re-reading the article to see who Mike Darnell was.

      Comment by Tim – May 23, 2013 11:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Just when you think that reality show concepts can’t get any worse, someone comes up with an idea like this. May it fail miserably and get cancelled right out of the gate.

    Comment by Linda – May 23, 2013 10:38 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It *might* be cathartic – but only in the same way that the town mob in The Lottery found it ‘cathartic’ to stone a random neighbor to death each year. i mean, seriously, imagine walking in one day and being told your job is being put up to a vote by the masses and that your co-workers are being encouraged to dump on you in the most irrelevant ways possible? that’s the opposite of every human resources class ever.

    Plus, and even worse, it’s one thing to volunteer for a reality show. it’s another to have this kind of on-camera back-stabbing forced on you by the person who signs your paycheck.

    Comment by js – May 23, 2013 11:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Word to your mutha!! Well said

      Comment by Tim – May 23, 2013 11:44 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Nice literary reference! I wonder how long it takes before someone decides to borrow from Shirley Jackson for a reality show…

      Comment by Brooke – May 23, 2013 11:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It just looks so bad. Almost like that show restaurant stakeout. So scripted, and the obvious placement of camera and crew, make it impossible to believe. If these aren’t actors, the local temp agencies must have been on a hiring frenzy to fill these ‘positions’ for the show.
    Shows like this being green-lit reak of back room favors, and an arrogance toward the viewer. This is what we will show in this time slot cause we’ve been paid, we don’t care if you watch or not cause advertisers have paid us, and you as a paying customer have no say in our continuing demise of programming.

    Comment by Tim – May 23, 2013 11:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The show is very much real!! No actors real employees and no it was not scripted

      Comment by Sonia – May 23, 2013 10:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What a classless show.

    Comment by June B – May 23, 2013 11:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This is like a snuff film. Just not as enjoyable. Won’t get past week 3.

    Comment by Rob Horine – May 23, 2013 12:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I feel Mike Darnell doesn’t get why most reality shows are successful. If you look at American Idol, SYTYCD, DWTS heck even KWK they are about hope. About family and about people getting second chances or reaching their dreams.

    Comment by Mick – May 23, 2013 01:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This is an awful, tragic idea. Nothing short of a demeaning gladiatorial spectacle (in the most derogatory sense of the word). How low do these bottom-feeders have to go before we aren’t subjected to this kind of crap on our televisions anymore. Terrible, terrible, terrible idea.

    Comment by kajar – May 23, 2013 02:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Is the company really called “Endemol?” LOL. Sounds like a euthanasia drug.

    Comment by syb – May 23, 2013 02:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Endemol is the production company for the show…. they do Big Brother, Extreme Makeover Home, Wipeout, Hell on Wheels, 1 vs 100….

      Comment by Steven – May 23, 2013 06:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • And we should end ‘em all!

        Comment by sheri – May 24, 2013 08:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • wow..what a shocker (yawn)…the minorities and the old people get selected to be fired. I wasted 60 minutes of my life I can never get back.

    Comment by waterbug – May 23, 2013 07:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You couldn’t pay me to watch garbage like this. I’ve been horrified by the commercials for this all season on Idol. “Cathartic”? No, just plain mean-spirited. I HATE “entertainment” based on debasing people and holding them up to ridicule. Horrible! Hope the negative reaction here holds true for the wider audience and that this show fails miserably.

    Comment by marie – May 24, 2013 09:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This show is disgusting. Seriously, I was laid off and seeing this crap on TV really, come on now.

    Comment by Phil – May 30, 2013 10:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This show doesn’t look the slightest bit real. I can’t imagine any business running like these and allowing their employees to talk/act the way they do.

    Comment by Mike – June 6, 2013 06:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This show is bad, it is common knowledge when you hear the words Fox Broadcasting it’s going to be bad, this is the lowest of low. Can’t believe that this was given a green light, what were these executives thinking. A show that basically tears people down by ridiculing them on television. What if something tragic happens, it is not fun or entertaining to do this. Had no idea what the show was about and saw one episode and was shocked and appalled by it. The emotion stress caused by the other workers in the office was unnecessary, it seems more like a personal vendetta again a certain group of workers. The way the employees talked about the young woman that got fired was totally unnecessary, vile, hateful, malicious, and the so called manager and the other employees were just as hateful. They ought to be ashamed at the way they treated that young woman, she could have received constructive criticism not the emotional bashing she took. It was enough to send someone to a psychiatrist. All of these people are just mean spirited individual who take their hate and personal problems onto others. Shame on them. This show should be pulled off the air immediately. This is not entertainment, it is just a show about employees bullying a select few. I would never purchase any products or service from any of these companies portrayed on this show.

    Comment by RoseFlower – June 13, 2013 09:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Everyones negative comments accentuates the deplete state of todays workforce. Its about time its exposed that people expect to get paid for doing nothing. Workforce is an embarrassment.

    Comment by Pete – June 21, 2013 10:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And if we didn’t have issues with monitoring performance, 3/4 of people would be put on probation tomorrow.

      Comment by Pete – June 21, 2013 10:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Well said Pete. I loved the show. Everyone on here who is upset is probably not living up to their potential at work. Almost every company is out to make money, not coddle the workers. You are either “On board” and playing your role……”Or does someone have to go”?

      Comment by Ben – July 10, 2013 06:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • If you watch the show….till the ending you will see that the bottom 3 candidates who are still there and have been reprimanded are now all doing better. Uncle Mike has doubled his sales! There was only 1 termination on all 3 shows. In the very last episode they got rid of a slug who refused to produce (They actually gave him a second chance after asking him if he was going to follow up on leaving after he passed his Bar exam. He lied to everyone and left. The company got stronger) They also helped an alcoholic seek help. Positive things happened. I would like to see more of this show

        Comment by Ben – July 10, 2013 06:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
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    Comment by hack a twitter – July 31, 2013 02:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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