The Corner

Take the Money and Run

No, that’s not the new Obama economic plan, it’s a reality/game show on ABC. For some reason my daughter loves it. The premise is pretty clever. You get one hour to hide a briefcase worth $100,000 somewhere. You get to use the car provided by the show. When your hour is up, you’re taken into custody and held in a real jail cell. Then two real cops have 48 hours to find the briefcase. If they do, they get to keep the money. They can search your phone records, question your friends, and have access to the route you took on the car’s GPS. The only regulars on the show are two interrogators who grill the contestants.

Now, I’ve only watched three episodes so I might be missing some of the rules. Indeed, I hope I am, because for the life of me I can’t figure out why the contestants are so unbelievably stupid. I should say just some of the contestants are stupid. The model seems to be to pick duos where one of them is a major liability. 

On two of the three shows, the only way they found the briefcase was thanks to the fact that one of the contestants simply couldn’t handle being locked up and couldn’t take the pressure from the interrogators (pressure that was entirely missing from what I actually saw). Now, I don’t claim to be a super tough guy. I have every confidence that cops could break me under real-world circumstances. I’m also sure that if I were put in a real jail cell with real criminals, I’d have a hard time keeping it together. But these contestants are locked up alone. The worst that happens to them is their toothbrush and toothpaste are taken away. They know no one is going to hit them, and they know if they can last 48 hours, they’ll have a good chance to win $100,000. And yet in two of the three episodes I’ve seen, a contestant just couldn’t handle it anymore and told the interrogators where the briefcase was, in exchange for being released (thus screwing their boyfriend in one case and their brother in the other). That means they lost $100,000 because they couldn’t handle boredom. I find that amazing and more than a little hard to believe. My wife would never, ever, forgive me if I broke down under those circumstances.

That’s not all, of course. Someone needs to explain why the prisoners talk so honestly with their interrogators. Is it required? I mean, I would alternate between total silence and Joe Biden–esque crazy talk. “Did I bury the briefcase in the park? Good question. It reminds me of the aardvark who ate a brick of cheese to keep his fly from going down. And that’s why we need clean coal technology.”

I’d love to be on this show. Love. Where do I apply?

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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