When a briefcase once arrived in a Nine reality series of the same name, it carried $100,000 and watched needy families squirm as they were faced with another even more in need than they. The audience rightly rejected the format as exploitation dressed up as a dilemma.
Hopefully they will see more value in ABC ME’s Teenage Boss. Based on a Norwegian format the cash here is only 4 figures and represents a suburban family’s monthly budget.
Host and buoyant mathematician Eddie Woo challenges 13 year old Vasanth to budget frugally for his mother Sathya, dad Shan and bigger brothers Ananth & Jayanh. For the next month the youngest in this Indian-Australian family is in charge of the decisions and $3850 in cold, hard cash.
But with great power comes great responsibility. All Vasanth wants to do is upgrade his scooter. If he had his way there were be scooter parks every 2 km and no more cars. Sounds good to me.
If he is to get that scooter upgrade he will have to save some costs, but will it mean fewer family take-aways, less money on entertainment & outings and cuts to the groceries? There are 2 bigger brothers with appetites who are ready to make demands.
“If anyone causes me any trouble I will set them straight. Now I’m the boss and everything is mine,” Vasanth insists.
Cameras capture him grocery shopping with best pal Kai, where value-pack sized are his favourite new find and butter is replaced with Table Spread. But for mum Sathiya his modest haul is a problem. “Does he expect us to eat on love and fresh air?” she asks.
Unexpected costs upset the master plan with home maintenance, concert tickets for his brothers and his mother’s medication. Even a penny-pinching teen can’t say no to his sick mum. There is hope for us all yet.
This mix of reality TV and lesson-learning from McAvoy Media proves a practical and entertaining introduction for kids to learn about budgeting. The decisions Vasanth faces come with an emotional price but also a sense of self-fulfilment in negotiating sensible outcomes.
Star teacher Eddie Woo, who has been profiled twice by Australian Story, is a bright presenter and has our hero’s best interests at heart. There are also raw video-diary inclusions capturing the family without the distraction of TV crews.
By the end of the one month experiment Eddie returns with the news about how much our teen boss has gone over / under budget.
The big question: is there enough left in the case to upgrade that scooter?
Teenage Boss airs 6:25pm Sunday on ABC ME.