Review: ‘The Show’ Is One You Can Forget To DVR

Everyone responds to traumatic events in their own way. Whether it be therapy or changing their lifestyle or anything that helps them recover, there are numerous outlets that exist to help people find comfort. One thing that I would go out on a limb to say is not typical is orchestrating a reality TV show that encourages contestants to commit suicide. Yet that is the exact response that Adam Rogers (Josh Duhamel) has after witnessing a horrific tragedy in The Show.

The Show begins by showing the season finale of an episode of ‘Married to a Millionaire,’ the reality dating show that Adam is the host of. Right after the bachelor announces which finalist he chooses to marry, the losing contestant snaps and murders the bachelor before turning the gun on herself. Adam is so distraught from witnessing the murder-suicide right before his eyes that he immediately proceeds to give an interview on a late night show – featuring a brief cameo by James Franco – where he blames himself, and everyone else, and says that everyone drove a sweet girl to commit this heinous act. He laments about how the world just witnessed true reality television. Little did Adam know that these ramblings of a man still in shock from what he had witnessed would be the catalyst that leads to the birth of a new show that would change the course of many lives.

Ilana Katz (Famke Janssen), the President of Programming for their network and Adam’s boss, sees his interview and the horrific footage of the murder suicide and devises an idea for a new age of reality shows. After consulting with lawyers and finding a ridiculous loophole in suicide law that would remove any liability from the network, Ilana proposes a show in which contestants would commit suicide to raise money for their loved ones. At first Adam is appalled by the idea, but he slowly comes around. In his mind, if the idea of the show is focused on life instead of death – he would be a part of it. Adam believes that the deaths of the people on his new show would lead to a better life for their loved ones and it would teach the audience the value of life and help them foster empathy. Somehow – and I am still not sure how – the show is created and titled the very clever name of ‘This is Your Death.’ Trust me, the absurdity of this was not lost on me as I was watching the film.

The Show goes on to display the transformation within many of the central characters during its runtime. I must say that within all the nonsense, Giancarlo Esposito (who also directs the film) gives an excellent performance as Mason Washington, a janitor who is struggling to make ends meet and is in danger of losing his family’s home. Esposito’s performance proves to be one of the bright spots of the film. Throughout the movie I struggled to buy into the concept that a reality show centered on people committing suicide would become a raving success. Yes, there is an underlying message portrayed in The Show, however the ludicrous nature of ‘This is Your Death’, the network audience cheering on and encouraging suicide all while holding signs like they were at a professional wrestling match – all of this removed me from the film and the message it was trying to sell. There are numerous deaths that we witness throughout the film which try to keep the audience engaged though shock value, but they just add to nonsensical narrative. Another bright spot for the film was the score. During points in the film, especially during the climax, the music does help set the scene effectively. I give credit to Giancarlo Esposito for trying something outside of the typical Hollywood mold, but in the end The Show falls short and proved to be too farfetched.

Rating: 2 out of 5