Adam Rogers (Josh Duhamel, the recent Transformers films, Las Vegas) is a reality show host that witnesses a horrible tragedy and realizes the TV world he helped create is a far cry from what America really needs. When the murder/suicide that occurred on TV sparks an idea in the network's head of programming, Ilana (Famke Janssen, X-Men, Blacklist: Redemption), she convinces Adam to host a new kind of show. At first Adam is outraged, but when he sees it as an opportunity to present a message to the world, Adam starts to go along with Ilana's plan, while ad-libbing plenty of his own message. The network executive also coerces noted producer Sylvia (Caitlin FitzGerald, Masters of Sex) into working on the new project and while she has just as many reservations as Adam, Sylvia thinks Adam's message might be worth conveying, provided they can pull it off of course.
So what exactly is this new series? Well, on live TV, people will commit suicide. As long as the guest is of sound mind and no one on the show actually helps the person kill themselves, the network is in the clear, legally speaking. What Adam hopes to do though is use the on-screen death as a way to help affirm life and maybe help out the family of the newly deceased. How? Well, the first guest's child ends up receiving a ton of financial help through viewer contributions, while later contestants compete for the prize money to go to their beneficiaries based on viewer voting. The show is a hit and it looks like Adam's hopes for its direction might be on target, but it isn't long before the success and fame of "This Is Your Death" goes to his head and Adam's views take a dark turn, especially when there is an chance of the show's ratings taking a dip.
There are two other stories taking place alongside Adam's journey. One is that of his sister, Karina (Sarah Wayne Callies, The Walking Dead, Colony, Prison Break). She is a former drug user, but now is a nurse that works with cancer patients and as Adam's new show grows in popularity, she finds herself shunned by her co-workers and patients. As Karina works to deal with her more stressful situation, she threatens to fall back into old, bad habits.
The other tale is that of Mason Washington (Giancarlo Esposito, of Breaking Bad, Revolution and Once Upon a Time note, but more importantly, he is also this movie's director). Mason works two jobs and is looking for a third in order to support his family and keep his wife and kids in a good home, neighborhood, and school. With his son's mounting medical bills and other pressures pushing on Mason from every angle, he does whatever he can in order to make money in the hopes of just getting the bill collectors off of his back. When he loses his job as a janitor at the network on the same day his job cleaning dishes at a local classy restaurant goes away, Mason finds himself in dire straits.
With each step Mason's story takes, you can see him going down the inevitable path of becoming a participant on "This Is Your Death" in the hopes of winning enough money for his family to live off of, but you can also see him doing everything he can to keep from going down that final and dark road.
The Show comes with only a few special features. There is a making-of featurette that talks about the show's creation and direction, as well as interviews with the five main cast members, but there is a lot of overlap between those interviews and the making-of, so expect to hear many of the same comments a couple of times when going through this release's extras.
The Show was a pleasant surprise. I went into it not expecting a whole lot, but what I got was not only a grim commentary on the nature of reality TV, but also a look at how people can get into tough situations and, despite working hard to resolve the problem, to be unable to get their head above water again, not without outside help of one form or another. All five main actors did a great job playing their various roles, and I especially enjoyed Esposito's directing prowess. The Show is a dark drama that is worth at least a rental.