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The Benefactor

When news surfaced that Mark Cuban was developing a reality TV show in which he would award $1 million dollars to a contestant from his own savings, people were really excited.  Billing The Benefactor as the anti-Apprentice, viewers were curious to see what Mark Cuban would come up with.  Considering his reputation as one of the most down to earth and exciting millionaires, Mark Cuban has become a household name over the last couple of years.  His time as the owner of the formerly embarrassing basketball team, Dallas Mavericks, has brought him great acclaim.  With a highly affable personality and high-risk attitude, hopes were high that The Benefactor was going to be one of the best reality TV shows ever.

However, this hasn’t really been the case.  The premise of the show seemed excellent as sixteen finalists compete against each other for the right to receive $1 million dollars from Mark Cuban.  Mark was ready to give away this large sum of money to a complete stranger under the requirement that they pass his test for success.  Based on his own life experiences, Mark created a series of tests that the contestants had to pass.  Additionally, The Benefactor was going to move away from the formula of similar reality TV shows by dismissing contestants during the show and not necessarily just at the end of each episode.  With the unpredictability quotient at an unprecedented high, The Benefactor could have been a lot better than what it is.

In its first season, The Benefactor is a complete mess.  While unpredictable is always a great element in reality television, randomness (particularly when there is a lot of it) isn’t.  What The Benefactor is completely random.  Watching The Benefactor is all about watching Mark Cuban hog the spotlight given to him by this show.  Some of the tests on this show have included: an elimination Jenga match and an expensive game of HORSE.  One contestant was eliminated for her refusal to air guitar on camera and another contestant managed to avoid elimination by spending $1,000 in a contest where each contestant was able to make one of their dreams come true on trying to become a rock star by buying an expensive guitar despite not knowing how to play one.

Worse of all is that The Benefactor eliminates contestants without any rhyme or reason.  Although The Apprentice can be criticized for sticking to a rigid formula, at least the viewers are able to understand why contestants are eliminated.  Donald Trump on that show provides a nugget of advice regarding business strategy and why a contestant is eliminated.  On The Benefactor, it seems that Mark Cuban eliminates people on whims and keep people on based on how much amusement he receives from them.

While nobody can really criticize Mark Cuban for creating a reality TV show based around receiving as much publicity and amusement as he can get, this doesn’t make The Benefactor any more enjoyable to watch.  If there is a second season to this baffling show, hopefully there will be a little bit more sense added to it.  For one million dollars, Mark, I’d be willing to come up with something for your show.