The term “amateur millionaires” brings to mind people who weren’t born into wealth and had no idea how to attain it on their own miraculously experiencing a windfall and learning quickly just what to do with the money they’ve acquired. Hopefully, the network marketers and stars of the new Centric show Amateur Millionaires Club have found ways—like this foray into reality TV—to make this money work for them well into their senior years.
The world of network marketing and the lives of those who’ve made it work for them are intriguing, and I was looking forward to viewing a show that satisfied this curiosity. However, the two episodes I saw were disappointing.
We may criticize networks like Bravo and VH-1 for the types of reality shows they’ve created, but they’ve mastered the art of blending scripted TV and real life in a way that captivates us and keeps us focused on the story—not the production.
How is that so? Here are five elements other reality shows possess that Amateur Millionaires Club lacks:
Inclusive storyline— If you’re not a faithful follower of most reality shows, then it’s pretty easy to watch an episode or two and get the gist of the show’s plot and character profiles/relationships. This wasn’t the case with the episodes of Amateur Millionaires Club I viewed. There were long stretches of airtime that passed without any real action or dialog between characters. What bothered me the most was that there was no real explanation of how these people make their money. I know what the term network marketing means, but I’m willing to bet that a lot of viewers don’t. I never saw product, the characters selling it, or providing support to their team in selling it.
Effective use of a soundtrack— The music in a television show helps progress the show and signals rising and falling action. In the case of VH-1’s shows, the soundtrack promotes new music and new artists, much like soundtracks for movies used to. Have you ever been in a store and all of a sudden there’s no music playing? That’s the feeling I got watching Amateur Millionaires Club. I was immediately aware that something was missing during scenes of the show.
Camera crew with mobility—The next time you’re watching a reality show, pay attention to the variation of angles, how quickly the director switches from camera to camera, and how this camera work advances the story and keeps your eyes entertained. Amateur Millionaires Club seems to rely heavily on static cameras, especially in the millionaires’ homes.
Wireless microphones— The bulky boxes that poke out of reality stars’ clothes look weird, but these wireless microphones are key to viewers hearing clearly what the cast is saying. Amateur Millionaires Club relies on boom microphones that usually work on closed sets with proper acoustics, but make reality show characters’ voices echo slightly like they’re coming from a big kitchen or public bathroom.
Showing before telling—This is a fundamental rule of all storytelling. Viewers want to see the action happening instead of hearing about it secondhand. Most reality shows are successful at being present when the action occurs or orchestrating this action for the viewers’ entertainment. Amateur Millionaires Club uses the cast members’ confessionals to drive the story and inserts b-roll to support it.
Check your local listings to find Centric in your area and catch a few episodes of Amateur Millionaires Club. After watching, let me know what you think? Does the show’s production distract you form the story being told? Do you see a plot?