Chrissy Sanford is a sweet, All-American girl who looks like a Barbie-doll. She has a large, loving family who supports her in everything she does. But now, with the help of NBC, she’s about to pull off the biggest hoax in television history. (Obviously the folks who wrote the voiceover bit hadn’t seen Ashlee Simpson on Saturday Night Live.)
Chrissy is in a limo, dressed to the nines, heading to the ‘middle of nowhere’. The car stops and she steps out into the darkness, and approaches a giant wheel (think prize wheel from The Price is Right). The wheel is spinning, and stops at $25,000,000. From behind the wheel steps our creepy-looking host, George Gray. George tells Chrissy that she’s agreed to participate in a hoax, but has no idea what exactly that hoax is all about. Right. He explains that the hoax involves Chrissy winning a fake 5-million dollar prize in an internet lottery, and she’s going to have to spend it all in five days – on herself. She can’t buy a single item for any one of her family members. After the five days of hilarity, Chrissy will then have to spin the money wheel, which will land on $25,000,000. Her family will think that she’s won that huge sum of cash, and just when they are at the peak of their excitement for her, she’ll have to come clean and tell them it was all a joke.
If Chrissy can pull this off, she and her family will win $400,000 worth of prizes. Not cash, prizes. What these prizes are exactly no one knows. There are few rules to the game, but if any of them are broken the ruse is off and the mystery prizes forfeited. No one can find out that this is all a hoax. Also, every family member must be present and cheering for Chrissy at the big wheel spin at the end. If even one person is missing, the prizes are gone and a NBC is stuck with hours and hours of useless footage.
George asks Chrissy if she’s up for the hoax, and she takes what seems like 25 minutes to think it over. Of course she agrees, and George proclaims that the hoax has begun.
Back at home, Chrissy’s family is milling about as a limo pulls up. There are lots of balloons and a giant check made out to Christine Sanford, in the amount of 5 million dollars. At this point I asked out loud, “What’s next, Ed McMahon?” Indeed, the man in the limo is none other than Ed McMahon. He takes the clown-check and heads up the driveway, saying that he’s looking for Christine Sanford. Chrissy’s parents are so excited they don’t know what to do, and five of her six brothers come out of the house looking confused. Chrissy is surprised that there’s such a production – apparently no one informed her that Ed would be making an appearance.
Ed announces that Chrissy has won at least $5 million from a website called TheBigWin.net (which we are told doesn’t actually exist), and now has a chance to win up to $50 million. He asks each family member what they would like with all that cash, and the answers run from Dad’s retirement to a computer to a guitar. Dad asks Chrissy if she can now pay back the money he lent her to pay for college, and she begins to realize that this might not be as easy as she thought.
Holly, who is one of the brothers’ girlfriends, says that she was so overwhelmed that she cried. Another brother says the situation is ‘sweet’. Not sweet like aw, how sweet, but sweet like sa-weet! David, yet another brother, is away on a business trip, so Mom calls him and tells him that Ed McMahon is there and that his sister is a millionaire. David wants to book the first flight back home after talking to Ed on the phone.
After champagne and some photo-ops, the Sanfords are whisked away to a luxury resort in Palm Springs. The family is very impressed with the private jet they’re travelling in, and they start asking Chrissy if they can all travel like this from now on. In the limo on the way to the resort, Dad says that he can’t get over the fact that there’s wine, champagne, and bottled water at their disposal everywhere they go. As the voiceover man says, Chrissy is now dragging her family deeper and deeper into the hoax.
At the resort, the whole family is incredibly excited at the thought of everyone having their own rooms. With such a large family, this has never happened before on a vacation. Chrissy’s parents are in a dream-like state at the thought of having an entire room to themselves for five days. At least they’re getting something good out of this whole experience, because I guarantee it’s going to get worse for them real soon.
Chrissy’s suite is bigger than most apartments I’ve been in. There are gorgeous rooms with luxurious furniture, a huge bathroom, and fresh flowers everywhere. There’s also a big spread of food laid out, along with wine and champagne. Dad dives into the wine (as would I), and pronounces it the ‘nectar of the Gods’. Sneak a few bottles into your own room Dad; you’re going to need it!
Chrissy is suddenly exhausted, saying that she feels like she just ran a marathon. The rest of the family heads back to their rooms, with Dad saying on the way out that he’s afraid that when he wakes up he’ll find out this will all have been a dream. Poor Mom and Dad. I just wanted to jump through the screen and hug them – they seem like such sweet people.
The next morning, Chrissy gets her first task – go shopping with Mom and Holly. I’m not sure if Chrissy is told by the fake lottery people what her tasks are, or if she decides on these things herself. I’d assume she’s following orders though, because the woman working at the shop they go to is in on the plan. She’s going to help Chrissy spend as much money as possible. Just as an aside, if you’re wanting to blow as much cash as you can in one place, clothing probably isn’t the best route to this end. Then again I’m just the recapper.
The woman at the boutique has a small task herself – insult the family and help Chrissy become a stuck-up snob. I don’t recall George telling Chrissy that she had to make things harder for herself by becoming nasty to the people she loves, but then again that opening sequence must have been reshot a few dozen times and edited even more.
Anyway, Chrissy begins trying on outfits that look like a cross between Paris Hilton and your local call-girl’s wardrobe. As Chrissy is enjoying her one-woman fashion show, the saleslady works on Holly. She asks Holly what she does for a living, and Holly says she’s an accountant. The disgust on the saleswoman’s face as she repeats, “You’re an accountant?” is just dripping. When Holly adds that she’s also a country singer, this woman shoots back “A country singer? People still sing country?”
In private, Holly confesses that she wanted to tell this woman to shove her clothes up her butt, but she was playing nice to support Chrissy. Mom is uncomfortable, but she keeps up the happy charade for her daughter. The saleslady insults Mom’s hair, and when Mom tells Chrissy not to spend all of her money on clothes, Chrissy says “It’s my money!”
Chrissy decides to take the whole lot of items she’s tried on, and the bill comes to a little over $16,000. On the way out, the saleswoman tells Chrissy to look her up the next time she’s in town and they’ll go shopping together, and Chrissy agrees, adding that they’ll shop “without the Walmart and Target girls”, motioning to her Mom and Holly. If I ever said anything like that in front of my own mother I’d be missing several of my teeth, but I digress.
On the way back to the resort, Mom and Holly commiserate over the changes in Chrissy. Mom says that Chrissy is entering a whole new world now, but Holly wants to tells that saleswoman to take her clothes and shove them, she’s going to Target.
It’s time for the men to get in on a little of the shopping frenzy, and what better place to take a group of guys shopping than a car dealership? Chrissy can’t decide between a Hummer and a convertible Cadillac. Dad is gaga over the Caddy, and says that his daughter would look great in it – or he would. (Side note to Dad – if I ever won $25 million, I’d but you the Cadillac just for having to go through this.)
Car salesman Dan arrives to help Chrissy spend as much money as possible – he’s in on the hoax as well. Chrissy announces that she’s just won $5 million, and wants a new car. The men are all slack-jawed; you don’t tell a car salesman that you’ve got millions to spend!
Chrissy decides to test-drive the Hummer, and gets to go on a special “Hummer Test Track” that’s set up behind the dealership. It looks pretty cool, and the men are all jealous that she gets to go by herself. Back from the test-drive, Chrissy announces that she’ll take it. As Dad is looking at the interior, his daughter offers to take him out to look at used Cadillacs. The brothers are again astounded that their sister could be so rude.
Inside, Chrissy needs to talk to the dealer to decide on the upgrades and extras for her new wheels. She asks one of her brothers to help her out, and on the way to the office Chrissy asks, “You hate me now, don’t you?” His reply: yes.
Of course Dealer Dan sells Chrissy all of the available add-ons, and the total bill for her car comes to an astounding $81,159.60. Dad is a little upset that he’s gotten nothing out of the deal, but he hides his disappointment from Chrissy. For her part, Chrissy says that she’s offended her mother, made Holly cry, dissed her brothers, and taunted her father, all while spending almost $100,000 on herself. She’s not feeling very good about the whole thing and hopes that they will all be able to forgive her. After all, she signed up for this, not them.
At the resort, Mom and Dad discuss the Hummer. Mom says that they should see all the beautiful clothes Chrissy bought – now this is a supportive mom, even if she is repressing things a bit too much.
It’s now time for a family dinner, “millionaire style” (whatever that means). The family gathers around the table to eat, but Chrissy isn’t there. She’s up in her room crying, and has asked to speak to the producers. She’s not sure if this is all worth it, playing on her family’s love and trust. She knows that her Dad would never do this to her, yet she’s doing it to him. We go to commercial as the voiceover man asks if this will be the end of the hoax. With two more episodes left, it’s going to be pretty tough if Chrissy comes clean.
Chrissy gets more confessional time, saying that she’s already come this far and her family would be more disappointed with her if she quit halfway through than they will be at the end. This is called skewed logic, but it worked. She’s going to tough it out and see what the next day brings. Meanwhile, her family has finished dinner without her.
Next week on the redundantly-titled $25 Million Dollar Hoax, there’s more shopping, more taunting, and more spending. Chrissy charters a jet, gets a makeover, and goes to a recording studio. And we get to feel even worse for her family.
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