Welcome to Chicago, an unwavering stronghold of the American corporate juggernaut. It’s a place of perilous risks and staggering payoffs, where fortunes are made and lost in the blink of an eye. While this may be true, the series we’re about to embark on is not. Welcome to My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss, where nothing is real but the payoff at the end.
We’re introduced first to N. Paul Todd, multi-billionaire. Or, as he tells it, he’s got “crap-loads of money”. Todd is sitting in his luxury jet, and tells us that he’s looking for a protege, a squire, disciple – what’s the word? You know, a not-very-old person he can tell his business secrets to? There’s one key thing you need to know – N. Paul Todd is a total fraud. His real name is William August, and he’s an actor. He’ll be playing the most ruthless, demeaning, obnoxious boss that you’ve ever seen.
The twelve contestants, who think they’re playing for a high-salary job with Todd’s multi-billion dollar corporation, have been told that they’re worth their weight in gold. Therefore, they’ve been tossed in the back of armoured trucks that have been driving aimlessly around Chicago all afternoon. As Todd says, “Little do our unsuspecting victims know that this is the first step in the most horrible experience of their professional lives.”
The contestants themselves are no slouches. They’re Harvard grads, investment bankers, business owners, financial consultants.
Todd explains that even though he’s fake and the company is fake, the game and the prize money are 100% real. Each week, one contestant will be eliminated. Working behind the scenes is a mystery boss, who will be secretly watching the contestants and deciding who stays and who goes. Who is the top secret mystery boss? We’ll have to wait to find out, but we’re promised that it will be the most astonishing revelation in reality tv history, and well worth the wait. Speculation, anyone?
The contestants arrive at the Civic Opera House to meet their new mentor. The guys driving the armoured trucks bring in a huge bag of cash and dump it at their feet, as Todd enters the room. He says simply, “Welcome to my world”.
Whitney privately describes Todd as ‘powerful’. He explains that his investment company is called Iocor Inc., and he is worth an estimated 3.8 billion dollars. He asks the group if anyone has heard of his company, and none of them have. Privately we’re told that Iocor is a Latin word, meaning to joke or to jest.
Todd shows everyone a flashy powerpoint presentation about him and his company, including 75 fictional companies he does business with. The contestants are all very impressed with Todd and his cash.
The game is explained to everyone – the object is to be the best, to outlast the others. Todd decides to make the two teams men against women. Sound familiar? Wait, there’s more. Todd introduces his two cronies, Jamie Samuels (played by Jamie Denbo), and David Hickman (played by David Jahn). They will, of course, act as Todd’s eyes and ears on the challenges. Okay, so Todd didn’t exactly say that, but he very well could have.
Champagne and hors d’oeuvres are brought out, and the contestants are told that they are drinking the finest French vintage. In fact, it’s bubbly purchased from the nearest corner store. Annette says she could tell it tasted expensive. The hors d’oeuvres were made from bologna, process cheese, spam, and other high-end ingredients – but our 12 prospective appren..er, winners all dig in and marvel over how tasty they are. One of them even says that they were much more sophisticated than she is. Man, she must be loving watching this with her family right about now.
Todd decides it’s time to hit on the ladies. He says that this is the type of guy who would likely have a few sexual harassment cases against him at any given time. He asks each one of the women if they have boyfriends, and they’re shocked. They all handle it very well though, even the married woman who Todd gives his sympathies to.
It’s Day 2, and the contestants wake up in a luxurious penthouse. They get letters asking each team to come up with a name for the other team. The idea behind this challenge? Corporate sabotage. The women come up with some zingers, like The Failed Endeavor, My Bitches, and Runner Up. The men are thinking along the same lines, with ideas like PMS, Second Place, and Clueless Inc.
The phone rings, and Kerry gets the news that limos will be waiting for them at 11:45. They are told to dress casually for their first task. The limos arrive and take them to an abandonned, dirty, rat-infested warehouse.
Todd and his sidekicks arrive, and Todd explains that there’s a lesson here. That lesson? Sometimes the key to success is buried in a mound of crap. Before we get to that though, there are two little business matters to attend to.
First, the names. the women have chosen Concad Inc, which the guys actually like. The men went with Femron, referring to the biggest corporate sabotage of our generation, Enron. The girls pretend to like their name as well.
Next, the team bosses. Tanya and Mike are chosen, and Todd tells them not to get too far ahead of the troops or they might get shot in the back.
Now, let’s hear about the challenge. To really taste what it’s like to be at the very top, you have to have been at the very bottom. Todd wants to know, if he strips them of all of their worldly possessions, could they survive. More importantly, could they turn a profit? Their task? Panhandling.
The contestants are all floored. “That’s what homeless people do!” “Right off the bat, I was aggravated.” Todd explains that the winning team will be the one who collects the most money. Duh.
The teams are taken to their piles of props – jars of dirt and mud, racks of old clothing, fake casts, cardboard and markers – everything they would need to turn themselves into beggars. Both teams decide not to go that route though.
The men don t-shirts that say “Help Chicago”. They decide to tell people that they are collecting money for local causes to help the city of Chicago. David, the actor, is dumbfounded that these professional guys are out on the street, completely committed to panhandling.
The women decide to use their sex appeal and work it. They don’t seem to be having much luck though, even when they claim that the money is going to their sorority. Jamie (the actor) is amazed that Kerry, who is an ivy-leageuer, was breakdancing on a street corner because she thinks that it’s going to help her business skills.
Concad works the charity angle to death – how they live with themselves I have no idea. Dan took 13 cents off some little kids, and says privately that he didn’t care, he was willing to take their money. Damian chases people, rolls around on the sidewalk in a neck brace, and tries any stunt he can to get some cash.
At the end of the challenge, both teams meet at a vacant lot in the worst part of town to find out how they did. They stand amongst piles of garbage and trash-can fires as Todd tells him how much he hates wasting his time on losers. Therefore, there will be consequences for the losers of the task – they will be sleeping there, in that lot, in tents that night. Jamie says that the women brought in $334.10. David has the results for the men – $312.46. The women win round one, and the men are not pleased.
The ladies get a reward for winning. They get to go back to the penthouse, where they will find a hand-made goosedown mattress for each of them. And to add to the fiscal security of the evening, they’ve stuffed each mattress with $10,000. Todd says that there’s no better night’s sleep than sleeping on a bed of money. He throws out that they don’t get to keep the money, but congratulations. The jaws of Femron drop faster than Todd’s credibility.
As the men head off to their tents muttering that the women won because they have boobs, the ladies are pulling their mattresses apart to see the cash. The guys can’t sleep because of the noise – there are trains going by at regular intervals, and the tents just can’t have been very comfy. Meanwhile, the women are finding out that cold hard cash doesn’t make for a very good mattress filling. In the words of N. Paul Todd, ‘sometimes the rewards suck”.
It’s now time for Concad to head to the conference room, where someone will be fire..er, sent home. Todd says privately that the only point of this exercise is to make fun of the guys and tear them a new one. He tells the men that they failed miserably, and that homeless people make a lot of money. Rob, a contestant, points out that a pretty blonde woman will do better collecting money on the street than they would. David (the actor) says that they should have marketed themselves better. Maybe try to use their own sex appeal to go after gay couples. The guys look at each other like David has suggested they light their genitals on fire.
Jamie (the actor) tells them that their “Help Chicago” slogan was ambiguous – help Chicago what? Join Canada? Damian argues that if they had gone with a specific charity they would have only reached the people affected by that specific disease or calamity. Todd comes back with, “If you’re gonna lie, lie big.”
Mike, the team boss, is asked to identify two people besides himself who he wants to expose to being eliminated tonight. He choses Dan and Rob, saying he thinks the other three guys just worked a little harder.
Todd tells Dave, Damian, and Douglas to go back to the penthouse – and instructs them to take Mike with them. He explains that this game is based on reality (har har), and the reality is that the boss always has deniablity. There is always someone under the boss who will take the blame. The boss is the last to know, and the last to go. So for the course of the game, the team bosses are safe from elimination.
Rob and Dan are left in the boardroo…er, conference room, and Todd asks them to defend themselves. Rob, who does not come across as a smooth talker even without Todd’s help, starts explaining that he’s a hustler, and Mike left him there because he believes that Rob will stay in the game. Todd throws out questions like who cares and so what, which completely confuses and throws Rob off.
Dan, on the other hand, delivers a stong speech which includes all of Todd’s comebacks. Who cares? Two people care – Dan cares, and Iocor cares because at the end of the day it’s about the money that Dan can bring in for both of them. Todd says privately that he would have been impressed if he were a real boss.
The guys are shown to the reception room so the boss and his buddies can make their decision. As soon as the men leave, the three actors start laughing. Todd says that it’s time to go and see the boss. He returns, and Jamie asks him is he got it. He did, and explains to us that when he gets the word from the boss, he only finds out who is being eliminated – not why. Which gives him free reign to make up any kind of BS he wants.
Rob and Dan return, and Todd tells Rob he’s going to be candid. He tells Rob that he’s short, and tall people have an advantage. Rob disagrees, and Todd says that maybe because he’s short he’s learned to make excuses for himself, but it’s something that he’s going to have to overcome in life. Rob’s only response is “really”, but he looks like he wants to jump across the table and throttle this man.
Dan’s turn. Todd tells him that he sees a fancy expensive suit, a fancy watch, etc. He bought his own suit off the rack and had it altered. He says that he made it very clear that he wasn’t looking for a suit, so… Get the Hell Out of My Office.
Dan leaves silently, and Todd congratulates Rob for surviving the first elimination. He has some good news as well – as the survivor of the elimination, he gets to be the boss of the next challenge which also means he’s safe next week.
Dan, in a limo leaving the building, says that he didn’t realize that Todd would be offended by expensive clothes. Had he known that, he would have dressed down for the occasion. Todd says privately that Dan is the lucky one, even though he thinks he’s been canned for wearing the wrong suit, because working for My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss is going to be hell.
Next week, Mr. Todd’s bad boardroom (yes they said boardroom) behaviour causes shock in the penthouse. The challenge is absolutely absurd, and leads to a blowout in the office later. Shock and a blowout? Sign me up!
This show has started out a bit slowly since we’ve learned very little about the contestants. In fact, I don’t even know all of their names yet. But William August, who plays Mr. Todd, is fantastic. I don’t know how he keeps a straight face delivering his ridiculous lines, but he does and he does it flawlessly. His private camera moments are truly amusing, and were the highlights of the show. Besides that, I can’t wait to find out who the real boss is!
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