‘Undercover Boss’ an obvious success
CBS premiered its new reality show, “Undercover Boss,” after the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. According to Nielsen ratings, the show attracted an estimated 38.7 million viewers, a good portion of the 106.5 million viewers who tuned in to Super Bowl XLIV. In fact, the show was the most watched series premiere since “The Dolly Show,” a 1976 variety show featuring country singer Dolly Parton.
The show’s pilot episode featured Larry O’Donnell, president and chief operating officer of Waste Management, America’s largest trash company. O’Donnell poses as Randy Lawrence, a construction worker who is new in town. During his undercover antics, O’Donnell works in a recycling facility, cleans portable toilets, picks up garbage at a landfill, and drives a garbage truck. O’Donnell even gets fired for the first time in his life. Each episode features a new CEO who will work undercover as an employee at his or her own company.
During his time undercover, O’Donnell becomes invested in the emotional stories of his employees. One employee, Jaclyn, takes on several challenging roles at Waste Management, yet she is still on an hourly salary. After just meeting “Randy,” Jaclyn invites him to her house for dinner where O’Donnell learns that she and her husband are in danger of losing their home. Although another employee, Walter, has been on dialysis for five years, he still works a physically demanding job.
At the end of the show “Randy” reveals his true identity and gives promotions to several company employees. In the end, O’Donnell realizes the repercussions of his policies, and makes a conscious effort to improve the working conditions for his dedicated employees.
Upcoming episodes feature CEOs from Hooters, 7-Eleven, and several other companies. Since the show premiered after the Super Bowl, it is unlikely that ratings will remain as high. According to The New York Post, CBS will greatly benefit from this show financially since none of the participants will be paid. “Undercover Boss” had a stellar TV premiere, and it looks like this show will be one of CBS’s most promising and heartfelt shows.