The BBC is under fire for their upcoming reality show Britain’s Hardest Grafter, which strongly reminds us of The Hunger Games.
In Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, the 12 districts of Panem are shrouded in poverty, as their inhabitants are forced to do constant hard labor in order to sustain the luxurious Capitol.
Each year, two children from each district are forced to compete in a reality show competition, where the prize is money and fame — but, of course, this all comes at the expense of the other 23 tributes’ lives.
Parallels to real-life reality shows have been drawn before, often reminding us that the horrific, post-apocalyptic society depicted in Collins’ novels isn’t necessarily as far off as we’d think.
But now, it seems the BBC has really crossed a line with their upcoming Britain’s Hardest Grafter reality competition.
Accused of “poverty porn,” the forthcoming reality show pits unemployed and low-paid workers against each other, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The five-part BBC2 series is seeking 25 contestants, who will be put through a series of “real-world” job challenges (read: hard labor) in order to “prove themselves” the most capable.
The “least effective” contestants will be voted off, until a champion is found. The prize is £15,500 ($23,700), which THR describes as, “the minimum annual wage for British workers outside London.”
Of course with the seemingly never-ending recession and high unemployment rates, it makes sense that TV studios would try to capitalize on people’s increasingly desperate desire to find a job.
But, as the Stop the BBC’s Hunger Games Style Show petition points out, that does not make a show like this any less immoral.
“Unemployment and poverty are serious social issues and should not be the subject of a cheap game show format, designed to exploit some of the most impoverished in our society for the purposes of dubious ‘entertainment,'” the petition states.
The petition already has more than 12,000 supporters. Its total goal is 15,000.
In an attempt to defend themselves, the BBC has released a statement in which they call Britain’s Hardest Grafter a, “serious social experiment.” They want to find out “just how hard people in the low-wage economy work.”
“Each week the contributors – who are all in work or actively looking – will experience a different ‘blue collar’ role as the series explores the truth about Britain’s work ethic. Throughout the series, the contributors are rewarded for the work they do,” the statement reads.