It takes real chutzpah to produce a career-counseling show hosted by Al Sharpton — who as best as anyone can tell, doesn’t really have a job — and a woman billed as a “life coach,” which isn’t a real job. Proving that reality is harder than it looks, this misguided series offers eight guys a chance to pursue their dream job, augmented with a lot of posturing, lecturing and inane challenges. If this is the best Spike’s developers can do, the cable network for men should stick to airing “MXC” and reruns of “CSI” and James Bond movies.
Amateurish from start to finish, “I Hate My Job” barely introduces the contestants before whisking them off to compete in a peculiar scavenger hunt. Then again, that’s probably a relief, since most of the players have as much personality as a bowl of plastic fruit, including a preschool teacher who desperately wants to be a “club promoter.”
Everyone involved seems wildly impressed to be spending time with Sharpton, whose words of wisdom make Donald Trump sound like Yoda. “Life is like a basketball game,” he begins at one point, apparently having missed the whole box of chocolates analogy in “Forrest Gump.”
Toward the end of the first episode, each contestant must try to achieve a feat tied to his hoped-for job, from acting to modeling to standup comedy. Rev. Al watches the pageant with the kind of stoic expression normally reserved for passing a stone. Moreover, despite the host’s history as a civil rights advocate, there’s only one African-American in the group. Hello!
Perhaps mercifully, half the guys are dismissed at the end of that hour, before the survivors are told to quit their day jobs. That quartet then engages in pointless stunts where they do things like leap off a tower and try to grab a ring, as the lovely life coach, Stephanie Raye, explains the symbolism.
This is reality TV for dummies, providing no clear sense of how the show is going to get any of these nitwits any closer to their goal short of threatening a lawsuit. Moreover, it’s about as obviously staged as reality TV gets. When the guys go in to quit their respective jobs, for example, the cameras are already positioned over the shoulders of their “surprised” bosses. Let’s just say that acting isn’t in anyone’s future here.
Certainly, there’s a vast pool of people who yearn to do something beyond the drudgery that frequently pays their bills. Still, it’s hard to see the responsibility in exalting a guy who quits his job in a law firm to pursue the rock-solid field of standup comedy. Uh, anybody ever heard of moonlighting?
In short, “I Hate My Job” is a title in search of a program, and a cut-rate one at that — which isn’t to say I don’t feel sympathy for the contestants.
In fact, during the time I squandered watching this, I knew exactly how they feel.