Worst Idea of the Week: Recession on FOX?

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Here’s my nomination for the Worst Idea of the Week—and yes, it’s only Wednesday but I’m confident this gem will not lose its luster before next Monday.

You probably know this: the recessed U.S. economy is plagued by layoffs; a staggering 663,000 jobs were shaved away by employers in March alone, bumping the national unemployment rate to 8.5%. Many projections forecast that 1 in 10 people will be without work in the U.S. by the end of 2009.

But you may not know this: the Fox network acknowledged today that it is making a reality show out of the troubled economy. An upcoming series titled “Someone’s Gotta Go” lets employees of a small business decide which one of its colleagues will be laid off. Each week, a different company lays off an employee.

Fox says it has no air date yet for the series, which is being developed by the production company behind reality borefest “Big Brother” and the no-talent-or-skill-required game show, “Deal or No Deal.” Fox also wouldn’t reveal the new show’s host, which it says is a business consultant who will offer advice to participating companies.

So, as millions of Americans worry about their job security or are unable to find employment, TV execs expect us to tune in weekly to a reality show that will glorify layoffs? Are we supposed to find suspense or humor in watching fellow citizens not only receive their pink slips, but do so while being humiliated by coworkers voting them out of their offices?

Or wait, maybe Fox will put some heartfelt spin on this show and turn it into a sappy, corporate version of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Even if the network finds a way to not make the tone of this show so appalling, the very basis still is exploitive and mean-spirited, no?

Here’s what I’m curious to see: no, not “Someone’s Gotta Go.” Rather, what companies are going to buy commercial airtime during this series?! Are struggling car makers going to advertise their new hybrids in between cliffhanging segments? Retail chains in foreclosure are going to announce their everything-must-go liquidation sales? Chain restaurants are going to offer 2-for-1 appetizers to families that can’t afford to go out to eat? I certainly hope that companies have the foresight to dodge advertisements that would support this show.

And I hope that, if the show makes it to prime time, a hard-hit, weary American workforce collectively turns off its television sets.

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