A Rude Awakening
The First Time
A Day Late and a Dollar Short
Cards on the Table
Change is in the Air
Summer Job is one of those shows that’s likely to be a guilty pleasure for some and outright horrendous for others. It’s not a particularly great or novel series, and in many ways it simply picks out what’s already come before in the reality TV space without really reinventing the genre. There’s a bit of Jersey Shore, World’s Strictest Parents, Love Island and even Teen Big Brother, spliced together into this cocktail that’s going to be an acquired taste.
Split across 8 episodes, this reality competition series sees 10 teenagers off on their dream vacation. They’re living it up, with sun, sea and sex on the horizon for the next 10 weeks at the paradisiac Mariposa House while they’re filmed. Sounds like a dream vacation right? Well… there’s a twist.
After the first boozy night, the kids are joined together outside where our host informs them this is no ordinary holiday. In fact, they’re going to have to work for their time abroad. That’s right, these lazy kids are put to work with tough bosses grilling them to do manual labour and a litany other odd jobs here and there.
At the end of the workweek, they’re given their “paycheck”. If the envelope they’re given happens to be empty, 2000 euros is deducted from the $100k prize fund they’ll walk away with at the end of the 10 weeks. Not only that, but they’re also prime to being booted out the competition and forced to head home, which occurs at the end of every working week.
This format continues throughout the series, with added challenges and bonuses thrown in where the kids can choose to draw more money out their prize fund for nights out or other luxuries. On the one hand, it’s a nice way of socially splitting the kids up and forcing drama upon them all, but at the same time it feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth to reward rich kids for simply doing what “the peasants do.”
While there is some growth from the kids involved, it’s hard to know whether this is simply because the cameras are rolling and they’re motivated to get the money at the end, or if they’re actually going to make changes going forward.
There are also some subjective occasions where the kids have a torrid time at work but yet they still get their paycheck. I appreciate that editing plays a big part here but at the same time it feels a bit disingenuous to the premise. The cynic in me almost feels like the prize at the end should have just been completely fake; a way of teaching these kids the harsh lesson that life isn’t always fair. But maybe that’s just me!
Fans of other reality series will likely get a lot out of this. The drinking and sex scenes are nothing new to this format, but there’s a fair amount of it – especially near the beginning of the series. The typical talking head interviews feel very similar to that seen in Jersey Shore, while the cocky, arrogant characters on display feel like they could have been kicked off of an Italian Love Island clone.
For some, this will be reality TV paradise, but the real meat of the show comes from seeing these kids at work, which is where the best parts of the show stem and where it feels like the series should have spent more time. This is a guilty pleasure in almost every sense of the word, but it’s also not particularly original or unique either. If you’re not sold by the first few episodes, steer clear of this one.
Verdict - 5/10