Change the channel now: TV shows bring recession to living room

If TV is supposed to be an escape from your worries, then the upcoming TV season isn't going to help many Americans dealing with the recession.

While not all TV shows are about leaving your worries behind, some new shows are diving into the recession by showing how the big guy is brought low and the little guy struggles as the economy falters.

Here are some of the shows. I'll leave it to you if these tales are worth your time.

"Hank" on ABC features Kelsey Grammer in a comedy as Hank Pryor, a titan of industry who suddenly finds himself out of work, almost out of money and around a wife and kids for whom he's never made much time. He's confident he's on the road back to greatness.

With the great Grammer heading this family comedy, it has a chance. Here's a clip:

Another comedy is "Sons of Tucson" on Fox, about a banker who goes to jail for corporate crimes.

"Brothers" is another Fox comedy, starring Michael Strahan as an NFL star who has somehow lost his NFL millions.
If the reality of the recession is more what you're looking for on TV, then the new reality shows are hitting the mark. "Shark Tank" on ABC has desperate entrepreneurs pleading for investment funds.

Fox's "Somebody's Gotta Go" features a company with about 20 employees that needs to cut costs because of the economy. But instead of the boss deciding who loses their job, the employees make the call after looking at the company's books and seeing the salaries of everyone. In a twist on "The Apprentice," the chosen one lose a job, instead of getting one.

"Undercover Boss" is a reality series on CBS that has executives taking on dirty jobs in their own companies. While they're undercover, they learn what their employees really think of them and discover how smoothly their companies are really run.

"Pawn Stars" on the History Channel follows a family-owned Las Vegas pawn shop. Called a "docu-soap," it shows how the family uses its sharp-eyed skills to carefully assess the value of items their customers bring in, ranging from the obscure to the historic.

And finally, instead of showing expensive homes being remodeled, the normally optimistic HGTV is debuting on May 31 "$250,000 Challenge," where five families compete in a home renovation contest to win the big money. \

One family put everything it had into a home it bought a year and a half ago, only to see it lose $150,000 in value. A single mom faces foreclosure, and a laid-off father says he'll likely have to sell his house unless he wins.

Just what America needs: More people foreclosing on their homes -- but this time because they didn't win a TV show contest. Great. Bring on the popcorn.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at

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