Does Someone Have To Abdicate Her Responsibility As Company President?

I would have loved to have watched the series premiere of Does Someone Have To Go? and come back here to report that my fears about it turned out to have been unfounded. Alas, not only was I right to be apprehensive, but the actual product turned out to be even more offensive and weird than I could have guessed, and now I just have a lot of questions.

Exactly how cynical was the casting process for this thing?

I don't work in reality TV but I bet I can guess how it went: producers picked a medium-sized city, looked up a few small-to-medium-sized companies, and made some cold calls. They couldn't have approached any large companies, because executives at large companies would have been too risk-averse (read: canny) to open their companies up to this kind of embarrassment. But companies the size of VMS make sense for this kind of bloodsport for a few reasons: if they're among the few stable, regionally-based white-collar employers in an area, people are likely to stay for a long time (and we saw, when salaries were revealed, that some of these people have been at VMS for close to a decade; I don't think I knew anyone in, for instance, New York who had worked at the same place that long); the longer employees work together, the greater the odds that they'll have had time to develop and nurse resentments about one another; the fewer the options for them if they do lose their jobs, the greater the drama will be when the time comes for the nominated employees to fight for them. That it is a company that happens to feature several high-level staffers related to its founder was probably the clincher that got VMS onto the show.

Why can't Dema sack up and manage her own staff?

Assumedly no one at VMS has the safety net to have been presented with this "opportunity" and said to his or her direct manager, or to company president/founder Dema, "If there is a problem at this company, it is your responsibility to deal with it," but that is actually the case. There is a reason that companies of a certain size are run according to org charts that make it clear who's in charge of whom: a corporate environment is not designed to be run by collaborative decisionmaking whereby the sales rep who just got there has a say in whether a department head he's probably never had to interact with professionally is any good at her job. VMS probably works fine; nothing in the opening package indicated that profits were down or something like that. But if there were serious enough issues that Dema was noticing on a regular basis that important shit wasn't getting done, the solution isn't to call Fox, for God's sake.

What would make Dema want to do this?

Having watched this first episode, now I know: that Dema isn't a good manager; that she's been aware of interpersonal problems among her staff that she apparently hasn't addressed; that she has no qualms about taking staff off their day-to-day tasks in order to participate in this exercise; that she doesn't take an issue as important as deciding whether people are going to lose their jobs seriously enough to handle it herself. If I'm a VMS client, I'm spending today Googling its competitors, because it doesn't seem like a company I want to do business with anymore.

Would anyone have been able to think of three co-workers to fire if they hadn't been goaded into it?

If The Office taught us nothing else, it's that being forced to spend time with people someone else picked can be a chore. Getting irritated with co-workers for even very minor offenses is the nature of white-collar work: chance has thrown you together, economic necessity has kept you where you are, and social convention stops you from freely venting your spleen. And yet, while one may fantasize about a hated colleague not being at work anymore, few among us would, in such a fantasy, anoint ourselves their executioners. So the show's producers have to inject extra bile into the proceedings by (a) showing a montage where each employee is bitched about by his or her colleagues, and (b) revealing each employee's salary. Obviously, nearly any group of co-workers would turn on each other under such circumstances (along with the fact that they each have to stoke resentment of other employees to keep themselves out of the bottom three).

Phil says "This isn't a game show," but...isn't it?

It certainly functions a lot like Big Brother (down to the fact that the contestants are trapped together). The only thing that makes it different is that the "prize" is "getting to keep the job you already have."

Are these decisions REALLY going to be binding?

I'm just not that sure that, even if it's the will of the people, Dema's going to fire HER MOM.

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