MANCHESTER, NH — Wednesday night’s premiere of “The Briefcase” on CBS featured a Manchester family, faced with a $100,000 decision.
Give away some, all or none of the unexpected money to another family that might be in an equally difficult financial decision.
Spoiler alert: If you DVR’d this one, we’re spilling the beans below, so stop reading now.
“For me, it’s not about yourself, it’s about other people,” says Dave Bronson, an injured Iraq Army veteran who lost his leg in an IED blast.
The premise of the show is the couples from around the country, who thought they were involved in a documentary shoot, find out that they are actually on a reality TV show. Each family is given a briefcase with $101,ooo in it. They can keep the $1,000, but must decide what to do with the balance.
Dave and his wife, Cara, at first took different approaches to the money — she initially wanted to keep $60,000 while Dave wanted to keep $20,000. Meanwhile, their counterpart family, the Bergins from North Carolina, waffled even more dramatically — Joe Bergin initially kept all the money, but a day later, his wife Kim decides to keep it all.
Then things changed, after the Bronsons and the Bergins get to visit each other’s homes with less than 24 hours left to decide what to do with the $100,000 windfall.
The Bronson’s see that the Bergins home, which is in some disrepair, broken faucets and washing machine. The Bergins discover that Dave is an injured war veteran, and that they are expecting a child. They are moved by his heroism, and see a parallel between the families, remembering their early days as a struggling young couple with young children.
Kim Bergin gets physically ill after visiting the Bronson’s home, feeling suddenly selfish about her decision, and refocuses on the love she has within her family, which “means more than anything.”
“That money is so not important to me right now,” she says.
Meanwhile the Bronson’s take stock of the Bergins’ broken down fleet of ice cream trucks, and realize that the struggle for them, with three teenage daughters and his heart condition, is very real.
Finally, the two families are both sent to Los Angeles to make their final decisions, face-to-face, with one another.
I have felt every emotion possible,” says Kim Bergin, as the two couples prepare to meet.
That is where they discover that they have both been charged with the same task, to decide what to do with the $100,000 while learning about the other family’s struggles.
“We were in your apartment, it reminded me of us 20 years ago,” says Kim Bergin. “This decision was extremely hard. I’m not a selfish person, but you have to think about your family because those are the people you live with. When I looked at this money I didn’t see Ben Franklin’s face; I saw my kids’ faces.”
The Bergins then push $100,000 across the table to the Bronsons, saying that they felt totally “at peace” with their decision to give all the money away.
Not to be outdone, the Bronsons tell them that they went through the same deliberations.
“I’m not a crier, it takes a lot. I’m fighting it,” says Dave. “We got to tour where you park your ice cream trucks. I could tell to get them fixed it would take a lot. That hit really hard with me,” says Dave.
Cara tells the Bergins that they also decided to give the Bergins the full $100,000.
“I told you guys you were a lot like us,” says Joe Bergin, as the two families embrace.
It was a life changing situation for all four of them — as they agree that the experience allowed them to learn more about themselves individually, and as couples.
“The Briefcase” is a six-week summer reality TV series aring Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. on CBS.
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