Tons of Cash-poster

It’s guilty pleasure time again!

Yep, now that The Glee Project has ended on Oxygen – with a bit of a muddled outcome it must be said – I need a new reality addiction to tide me over until The X Factor starts in a few weeks time. And I’ve found it in the form of Vh1’s latest reality competition show, Ton Of Cash.

Now before I start telling you WHY I’m enjoying this show I’m going to urge you to leave your brain cells at the door! I’m not making any lofty claims for Ton Of Cash which is pure bubblegum TV. But you know what, I like a bit of tasty trash here and there and I’d far rather watch a fast paced contest like Cash than yet another ‘rich people are so fabulous’ effort on a network like E!

Chances are you’ve not heard of Ton Of Cash. It’s been given pitiful promotion and launched a couple of weeks ago with a measly 312,000 viewers – and then slipped to just 201,000 this week. Between this and Famous Food, Vh1 are clearly not out of the ratings dumpster yet (though Mafia Wives is an undeniable hit). But Ton Of Cash deserves to be a hit, simply because it’s more fun than any of the broadcast network reality offerings of the last few months. I’d rather watch this Vh1 show that the dreary and contrived Take The Money And Run.

Here’s the premise. There’s 14 contestants and they’re all deep in debt. However Ton Of Cash isn’t another predictable ‘financial makeover’ show. Instead the contestants are collectively given a million dollars – the titular Ton Of Cash. The challenge – each week they have to schlep the money to a different location, eventually winding up in Vegas.

Sounds easy? On paper yes – but a million dollars weighs a lot and the contestants have to drag the cash up steep hills, under fences, across large distances – and up against a time limit. If they don’t get all the money to the set ‘Cash Point’ in the allotted time they’ll start to lose money at the initial rate of $1,000 a minute. Each week the group must pick a ‘Financial Advisor’ to plan strategy and that person has the option to stop the clock – and save themselves from elimination – or keep going and run the risk of losing more money. Each week one player is sent packing and whoever’s left at the end of the show scoops the remaining cash! Check out the trailer here…

Ton Of Cash feels a little similar to The Amazing Race, but there’s none of the predictable airport / taxi cab drama that’s become a cliché on the CBS show. Plus the casting is pure Vh1 – full of young, sexy cast members with tones of personality!

Tons of Cash - contestants

Chief villain is Chuck, the arrogant bodybuilder who slacks off and barks insults at his fellow contestants. He’s formed a rivalry with Justin, the drama laden drag queen who loves to turn on the waterworks (I was also stunned that when Chuck dropped the F bomb in week one, yet only one of the contestants really came to Justin’s defense. Imagine if he’d used the N word?) Then there’s the clearly rather odd Jonny and Willy, the southern dude who knows how to turn on the charm. You just know there’s a whole lot more drama to come!

Ton Of Cash is produced by the team at 51 Minds, the go to production company for Vh1, responsible for a huge chunk of the network’s slate, including the I Love Money franchise and Money Hungry. I’ve never worked for the 51 Minds guys but I have to say I really like their production style. The shows are always very polished, fast, dramatic and often full of inventive twists and turns and memorable casting. I can totally see why they get hired again and again.

For me Ton Of Cash works because it has all the elements a great reality show needs. There’s plenty of jeopardy and stakes (ticking clocks always work wonders). It’s very visual. You can play along at home – how would YOU lug that cash up the hill? And of course it has strong casting. I always say if a show has a good premise and great characters you don’t need to ‘produce up’ the reality. It’s a lesson a lot of networks and production companies need to learn.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little worried how much longer Ton Of Cash will stay on the air considering it’s sticky ratings. But hopefully Vh1 will at least see it to the end of its run, even if it’s in a dead end slot. In the meantime though – if you do get a chance, this is one reality show well worth spending your time on…