‘Big Give’ no big difference in reality

Kelly Petryszyn

Courtesy ABC

Credit: Ron Soltys

“Oprah’s Big Give”

Sundays at 9 p.m. on ABC

Oprah has gone primetime. This time instead of giving away 276 Pontiacs, she is giving money to contestants to give to other people in “Oprah’s Big Give.” The kicker is the givers do not know that there is a $1 million prize that awaits the contestant who is the biggest giver.

True to reality show style, Oprah searched the country for the best givers. She turned up a paraplegic ex-cheerleader, soldier, beauty queen and seven other givers. The givers then get challenges to give a sum of money to a person in some big way over a set amount of days. After they have completed their give, they are then judged on their giving style and eliminated if they are not up to par.

The show has a great premise, but it slips into the mold of the average reality show. Sadly, it stoops to the level of including dramatic spats between the contestants and the overly intense evaluations in the elimination room. It is a nice philanthropic concept, but the drama takes away from the compassionate approach. The show’s flaw is that it cannot help but be a typical reality show. It has drama where it should have heart.

Despite all the distractions from the point of the show, there are still touching moments. Following “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the 9 p.m. show continues the do-good theme of Sunday nights on ABC. Each person who is given to on the show has a story of hard times. Most of the stories are of people overcoming unfortunate circumstances or philanthropists who need help with their work. Their stories are very powerful and nicely told.

Some of the gives are heartwarming too. One team had a block party for a woman who lost her husband, and they gave her money towards her house. They also started an education fund in her children’s name. At the end of the party, the team had the wife and her children write notes to their deceased father and husband and attach them to balloons sending them to heaven.

Despite these nice moments, the show has some technicality issues. Oprah herself does not appear frequently on the show apart from introducing it and providing voice-overs. She does not even appear at the judging. Also the givers are judged on how well they give. Last time I checked, giving is giving, and as long as someone gives to another person, then he or she is making that person better off. Giving is not an act that can be judged.

In addition, the fact that the winner gets $1 million counteracts the entire point of the show. It makes no sense to have a show about giving and then have the biggest giver win cash. The person should just get the satisfaction that he or she gave to another person. Granted, the contestants do not know about this prize, but they have to know Oprah has something up her sleeve.

Overall, it’s a nice vision, Oprah, but unfortunately it amounts to just another reality show.

Contact all reporter Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].