2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Review in Two: TNT’s “Inside Job”

Published: February 27, 2014, 11:33 pm, by Terry Terrones


What is it? “Inside Job”

Star appeal: None. This is a reality show with no host.

When does it air? The pilot episode airs Friday February 28 at 7 p.m. on TNT

What’s the premise? Each week on “Inside Job,” one American company will invite four highly qualified job candidates to compete for an executive position. For one week, they’ll live and work together as part of the interviewing and hiring process. What the candidates don’t know, however, is that one of their fellow candidates is already a management executive of the company. This undercover insider will monitor every move the candidates make, good or bad, and report the findings back to their boss. At the end of the week, the insider will be revealed and the insider will decide which candidate should be considered for the job.

What are the highlights? This series is made by the same team that produced “Undercover Boss” so chances are if you like that show, you’ll like “Inside Job.” Since someone on the show is “undercover” there’s a layer of voyeurism and I kept waiting for the other three candidates to do something or say something stupid in front of a secret evaluator. The diverse personalities of the cast help the show, so viewers will be able to find a favorite candidate to root for and root against. “Inside Job” also feels like a simpler version of “The Apprentice,” with contestants trying to demonstrate their skills through short challenges. The part of the show I appreciated most, however, was TNT not divulging who the insider was until halfway through. I watched the first two episodes and I was surprised both times.

What are the lowlights? While I like the premise, much like “Undercover Boss,” I found that my enjoyment depended on what business was being featured. The pilot centered on House of Blues and the second episode had candidates vying for a job at Shoedazzle.com. Mazda, Johnny Rockets, Abbyson Living and David Barton Gym are other companies participating this season but because the fun factor ramps up or down depending on the company featured, the show can be a bit inconsistent. The challenges on the show also don’t feel meaty enough to truly help anyone shine as a candidate for a real job. They’re done in so little time and can be superfluous, which gives the impression that all you have to do to win is be the most likeable candidate regardless of qualifications.

The Grade: (C): A job is a big deal to most people but you won’t be given that impression with this show. The lack of any sense of urgency (or desperation) by contestants and weak skill challenges will prevent viewers from truly investing into people trying to earn a job or in the jobs themselves. “Inside Job” is a fluffy piece of fun and has its moments, but its lack of heart, a staple of good reality TV programming, prevents it from being any more than that.