A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this reality series -- in which CEOs go undercover and pose as entry-level employees to learn more about how their businesses are being run -- underscores the idea that corporate managers must make an effort to understand how their policies impact the people who work for them. Despite a strong word or two (“piss” and “hell”), the show is pretty mild overall. Gender bias in the workplace and other issues are discussed, and some of the jobs the CEOs do include cleaning toilets and other "undesirable" tasks.
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What's the story?
Based on a British show, UNDERCOVER BOSS follows corporate bosses as they leave their offices and work undercover in their own company to find out how their business is really being run. Each boss spends a week travelling to different company sites pretending to be a candidate for an entry-level position. S/he must take direction from lower-level managers, do some unappealing jobs alongside his/her own employees, and adhere to the corporate policies that have been handed down from his/her office. At the end of the week, the CEO's true identity is revealed, and he or she then shares what was learned about the effectiveness of the company’s corporate policies and about the people who help make the company run.
Is it any good?
The show’s premise is that wealthy CEOs are currently out of touch with their companies and don't understand how their decisions impact their employees' professional and personal lives. The events on the show are clearly planned to get this point across. For example, bosses are strategically paired with employees who hav sympathetic and/or distressing life stories. The show also draws specific attention to some of each company's more inadequate corporate policies and highlights any hostile and/or sexist environments that are created when some of these policies are enforced.
Still, the series is surprisingly positive overall. Unsung heroes of each company receive well-deserved recognition, and the featured managers also seem willing to reevaluate some of their companies' procedures in order to serve both the company and its employees. But what really makes the show worth watching is that it acts as a symbolic voice for the millions of people across the country who work hard to contribute to the day-to-day operations of some of America’s major corporations.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between working in a corporate environment vs. working in operations-based positions. How does the media represent these different sides? Are there any stereotypes associated with these portrayals?
Do you think going undercover and pretending to be someone you aren't in order to gather information and/or learn more about a group or community is ethical? Why or why not? Do you think these CEOs could learn the same lessons in a different way?