Secret Millionaire’s rich people pretending to be poor beat Private Practice

Fox’s debut Wednesday of its new series Secret Millionaire didn’t get spectacular ratings, but the audience increased during its two back-to-back episodes, and ultimately, the show had more young viewers than ABC’s Private Practice.

The two episodes had 7.4 million viewers, far under Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s 11.8 million viewers at 8. But the audience age 18 to 49 “audience grew each half-hour, topping out at a 3.1 rating to beat ABC’s ‘Private Practice” and CBS’ “Grammy Nominations Concert Live” during the 9 p.m. hour,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The paper says “Fox’s expectations were low,” and Mike Darnell, the network’s president of reality programming, said, “I’m thrilled and surprised a little bit. We’re now at a point where we see a lot more potential.”

The show is somewhat of a departure for Fox reality shows, in that it pretends to have some kind of social conscience. On the show, actual millionaires pretend to be actual poor people–by, say, wearing hoodies– do various kinds of work with people in different socio-economic conditions, and then surprise their new friends with their true identities (“We’re rich!” “You’re still poor!”) and give them money. Then they go back to their rich lives. I’m cynical, but hell, this is a Fox series.

Four episodes remain of Secret Millionaire, and two new episodes air next week, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday; the same happens the following week. The first two full episodes are on Hulu, and here’s the extended preview of the series:

‘Secret Millionaire’ rates well for Fox [Hollywood Reporter]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.