Why “Undercover Boss” is Total BS

The CEO of Philly Pretzel Factory, Dan DiZio, will be featured on “Undercover Boss” later this week, which makes today an opportune time for us to cover the many reasons why this show is complete BS.

For those of you who haven’t seen it before, the premise is simple: first, producers slap noticeably fake facial hair on a millionaire CEO, then, said CEO toils alongside his underlings until his feigned empathy passes the point of diminishing returns. Lastly, the show concludes the same way Legends of the Hidden Temple does, with the CEO handing out parting gifts which range from trips to Disney World to $.25 increases in hourly pay (to my knowledge, no gift certificates to Fashion Bug have been given).

But here’s why it’s BS: The usually paltry gifts the CEOs bequeath to their employees could never- and will never -outshine the massive PR wet dream that is “Undercover Boss.” You see, the show is essentially a 40-minute infomercial for the featured company, and all those weepy employees the humble CEO “rescues” each week are worth over 10,000 auto-tuned “Sham Wow” guy memes.

Sure, some of the prizes help out employees – money for education funds, hospital bills etc. – but most are just cosmetic solutions to placate employee’s complaints. One CEO, after experiencing the sweltering summer heat at his shipping department, offered free “sports drinks” for employees two months per year. While that may be great for Joe in shipping, Mary over in accounting is still waiting on her increased benefits, and no amount of Gatorade will cure her chronic case of gout.

But the show’s also brutally unfair to employees. Sometimes, there’s rare but nightmare-inducing episodes in which a less-than-enthusiastic employee acts out and unknowingly denounces the company’s practices in front of the CEO, only to be fired at the end of the episode (below). Is that listed anywhere in the handbook? “Employees are subject to random undercover surveillance under the guise of a major network reality show.”

I’d also argue that the show undermines the ethos of working class America, since, according to “Undercover Boss,” the only way to get ahead at the office is to really impress your CEO with a gripping sob story and Ayn Rand-like work ethic on an undercover reality show for CBS.

Anyway, that’s why the show is crap, but be sure to tune in to CBS this Friday at 8 pm to see Philly Pretzel Factory’s newest hour-long infomercial. It’s going to be great!


Photos via CBS

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Chris Lipczynski

A graduate of Temple University, Chris Lipczynski continually spreads himself too thin, endeavoring in documentary films, “computer music,” first-person shooters, and manly hikes through the wilderness. Follow him on Twitter for daily musings and meaningless philosophical reflections: @RealChrisFlip.

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  • reneeski

    In the premier ‘Undercover Boss’ of the 2012 season on CBS, this show played out a totally scripted and unreal scenario of an employee teaching his boss (candidate) to drive a Semi. (18 or so wheeler).
    As any true driver of such trucks can tell you, these trucks require a FEDERAL license (CDL) to drive and to even learn to drive one a student needs to pass a written test and carry a learners permit. Yet we saw an employee surprising his boss ( candidate ) by trying to teach him how to drive. Totally scripted.
    I can take the schmaltz of the show but when they start scripting the show, I’m OUT.

  • JenJen

    Well, the setup of the show ALWAYS includes the scenario that the “candidate” is on a competitive reality show, thus explaining why they are being followed around by TV cameras. It is only in the end that it is revealed that it is Undercover Boss. I think that if employees think that they are going to be on reality TV, they are going to act unnatural and scripted, by default.

  • jack bauer

    How can you not know the ceo in a business of less than 100 employees.

  • Anonymous

    It always ends up,Ok you are the best employee .I’ve learned so much.
    You have opened my eyes I took everything for granted.
    You mentioned that you were struggling with some of the bills yea no shit!! because he is a waiter he makes $2 an Hour!! thats why!.What I am going to do is pay all of you bills and Im also going to give $10,000 to take care of your mother.
    The same shit over and over like watching general Hospital,,Some falls in love and cheat BS.
    Its all fake..

  • http://twitter.com/canaan2k9 chris

    this show is a joke. everybody knew after season 1 that if some “new” employee comes in with a mustache & glasses(followed by a camera crew), that they are on UNDERCOVER BOSS. I havent watched it since season 1 was over. You suckers out there need to change the channel so that the low ratings will make it go away.

  • Anonymous

    Not in CA.

  • Anonymous

    I’d rather watch bloomberg. Buying and selling stocks is more amusing to me than this paltry Middle Class Garbage.

  • Guest

    There’s a lot oh holes in your article, but i agree to a degree..

  • Tim Green

    haha you are such a typical douchebag. You kind of people make fckn sick.,

  • Tim Green

    coming from someone who prolly like watched jersey shore every week.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry about you being on a W-2. Try to file schedule C on your taxes next time. It will help for when you’re buying put options on round lots of stock.

  • Kim Slazer

    watching the show, totally bogus, first off the owner lady is no older than me and acted like smoking pot was like um he is a major drug addict the kid was about 20, second off, the guy was sitting there in his car knowing their were cameras in the car because duh we see it on TV and he admits to going in during the job and partying with college students while delivering pizza, how stupid is that and he didn’t look that stupid and all the sob stories are just stupid, no one spills their guts like that right off the bat.

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