All in day’s work on new CBS series ‘The Job’
BY LORI RACKL TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org February 6, 2013 1:52PM
7 to 8 p.m. Fridays on WBBM-Channel 2
Updated: February 7, 2013 12:16AM
The workweek ends Friday night, but that’s when TV gets down to business.
On ABC, would-be entrepreneurs face off on “Shark Tank.” Over on CBS, executives go incognito for a closer look at their companies in “Undercover Boss.” Starting this Friday, applicants compete for a career in CBS’ new show “The Job,” debuting at 7 p.m.
“There is actually an environment to go and make business programs, which hasn’t really existed before,” said “Job” creator Michael Davies.
The lousy labor market helped inspire the show, said Davies, whose daughter dropped out of college because she didn’t think it would lead to a worthwhile career.
“Her reason was that none of her friends who were seniors, not a single one of her friends graduating from a quite frightfully expensive college in the Northeast, had real jobs,” Davies said. “It was pretty clear to me that after the crash, something was broken in the ecosystem of the idea that the best people were getting recruited to the best companies to get the best jobs.”
Davies’ previous TV experience includes co-producing “The Glee Project,” where contestants try out for a role on the Fox’s dramedy “Glee.” It’s basically an extended job interview over the course of the season. Davies thought, why not make a show that has people compete for regular, real-world employment?
Hosted by Lisa Ling (“The View”), the show pits five hopefuls against one another as they interview and try out for a job. A panel of managers sizes up their performances, culls the herd with periodic eliminations and, at the end of the episode, gives the winner the job. For an added twist, bosses from other companies can jump in and try to snatch a promising candidate for themselves.
In the premiere, an assistant manager gig with the Palm Restaurant Group in New York City is up for grabs. One of the people going for it is Prospect Heights native Maggie Nachman, 29.
“I can’t tell you how many resumes I’ve sent out,” said the DePaul University graduate, who worked for several years at SushiSamba Rio in Chicago.
An editorial assistant opening at Cosmopolitan magazine is what’s at stake the following week. River North resident Kristina Leng, 26, is in the running for that position.
Other companies looking to fill vacancies with “The Job” during the eight-episode season include Epic Records, Major League Soccer and Viceroy Hotel Group, among others.
Like many reality TV contests, some of “The Job’s” candidates were clearly picked because they’d make good TV, not good employees. “The Job” provides ample opportunity for viewers to feel smug about their own employment prospects. Some contestants make pretty embarrassing mistakes — two misspellings in a 30-word blurb for Cosmo — and they get called out on it. But the criticism generally feels more constructive than destructive.
“I think I’ve proved in the last few years a kinder approach on television does work,” said “The Job” co-executive producer Mark Burnett, the reality TV guru whose own resume includes “Survivor,” “The Voice,” “Celebrity Apprentice” and “Shark Tank.” “America doesn’t want to see people getting ripped down.”
“The Job” markets itself as part entertainment, part education. Managers critique candidates’ interviewing skills and on-the-job performances and give viewers tips — basic tips, mind you — on creating a resume and how to act when applying for an opening.
“We would love to see this program in every high school 12th grade, in every college in the country,” Davies said. “It’s amazing that we prepare students for so many things and yet for actually getting a job … we don’t do any preparation whatsoever.”