30 DAYS: MINIMUM WAGE {SERIES PREMIERE} (TV)

Summary

The first in this reality series created by Morgan Spurlock of "Super Size Me" which examines one month in the life of various individuals exploring lifestyles very different from their own. In this episode, Spurlock and girlfriend Alexandra Jamieson commit to living for thirty days on minimum wage. He explains that he enjoyed financial success with "Super Size Me," which was nominated for (and lost) an Academy Award, but admits that he is "so bad with money." They decide upon three rules: they will both work minimum wage jobs, they will start with the equivalent of one week's pay, which comes out to $178.47 apiece after taxes, and they will freeze their accounts and credit cards and cut themselves off from other money. They select Columbus, Ohio as their new home, as its economic troubles are representative of the entire country, and after purchasing a bus pass, they set out trying to find a home. Eventually, they find a rundown apartment with an affordable rent, though they are mildly concerned that it is situated right above a crackhouse. They figure out that they must make roughly $1,000 between the two of them within the month to afford the rent and the deposit, and they set out to find jobs. Spurlock signs up at a temp agency, and Jamieson lands a dish-washing position at a coffeehouse. While shopping for food, Spurlock marvels that he has never before had to deny himself when hungry, but their limited funds necessitate that he eat less.

On his first day of work, he rises early and takes the bus to work. He talks with other workers at the temp agency, one of whom states that he is making less money now than he did in his first job in 1976. Spurlock explains that the national minimum wage was established in 1938 and has not changed for the past eight years despite inflation, and despite Ted Kennedy's repeated attempts to have it raised. Spurlock spends his day sanding drywall as Jamieson works in the kitchen, and he brings up $45 at the end of the day, which they keep in their tin "bank." The apartment, already unpleasantly cold, is soon found to be infested with ants, much to the frustration. However, they soon discover a church charity store in which everything is free and "shared" with those less fortunate, and Jamieson is touched to discover how generous people can be as they hunt for furniture. Spurlock works a landscaping job and injures his wrist, but as he has no insurance and cannot miss work, goes to a free health clinic. The clinic is overcrowded, however, and he is not seen, and he talks with a doctor about how America has "sick care" rather than preventative health care. Matters are made worse when Jamieson comes down with a UTI, and her prescription sets them back $24. They find that the electric company wants a large monetary deposit, and Spurlock's wrist worsens and he is forced to go to the emergency room, where they tell him he must avoid work in order to let it heal.

Realizing that they cannot spend less, Spurlock takes a second full-time job at a restaurant. When talking with a fellow temp, he realizes that having a family is what makes life especially challenging for many minimum-wage workers, and he decides to "borrow" his niece and nephew for a weekend to see the effect of children on one's finances. He and Jamieson purchase provisions and then research "fun" free activities, all of which are less than thrilling. Spurlock adds that childcare can be extremely expensive and the current economy frequently damages family units. When the teenagers arrive, they go to a dollar cinema, but they end up wasting too much money on snacks and Jamieson grows frustrated with Spurlock's spending. When Jamieson's 30th birthday arrives, they eschew a visit to a conservatory for a free afternoon in a park and a $23 dinner, admitting that they enjoy each other's company most of all. That night, however, a forced $13 cab ride sets them back even further. They are then astonished to receive their respective hospital bills, on which they are charged several hundred dollars just for walking through the door and $40 for a mere Ace bandage. They do a full count of their money and their bills and realize that they are barely making it despite being extremely thrifty. Day 30 rolls around and they finally pack up and leave the Columbus apartment, remarking on how much they have learned from the experience, with Spurlock concluding that he is "better for it." Commercials deleted.

Details

  • NETWORK: FX
  • DATE: June 15, 2005 10:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:44:55
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: B:91097
  • GENRE: Reality
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Poverty; Reality; Social problems
  • SERIES RUN: FX - TV series, 2005-2008
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

  • Ben Silverman … Executive Producer
  • H.T. Owens … Executive Producer
  • R.J. Cutler … Executive Producer
  • Morgan Spurlock … Executive Producer, Created by
  • Jonathan Chinn … Co-Executive Producer
  • Michael Bernstein … Senior Producer
  • Alison Ellwood … Supervising Producer
  • Keith Hoffman … Supervising Producer
  • Alan LaGarde … Producer
  • Todd Cohen … Co-Producer
  • Mary Lisio … Co-Producer
  • Lance Nichols … Co-Producer
  • Maryam Henein … Associate Producer
  • Carmen Cuba … Casting Producer
  • Ellen Raphael … Line Producer
  • Carolyn McEwen … Segment Producer
  • Eric Salat … Segment Producer
  • Jessica Morgan … Story Producer
  • Jeff Cardoni … Music by
  • Morgan Spurlock … Host
  • Alexandra Jamieson
  • Ted Kennedy
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