When you first meet Mandy McCracken, she is sitting on the bed, one of her three daughters putting a necklace on her.
She is smiling, red curls framing her sunny face as she talks us through her back-story.
“I ended up with four limbs amputated,” she says brightly.
Mark and Mandy McCracken (Via Channel 9)
Two years ago, Mandy almost died from a bacterial infection. But she survived, and now she is a quadruple amputee. Her husband Mark is her full-time carer. "We are entirely welfare dependent" he tells the camera earnestly. They're raising three girls on a pension just over $900 a week.
And they are the subjects of a show that's been dubbed by Time Magazine as "The worst reality show ever."
Listen to Rosie Waterland and Laura Brodnik talk it out on The Binge podcast:
The Briefcase is a show in which the needs of the disabled, the chronically ill, the homeless and the desperate are pitted against each other. Two families are given $100,000 dollars with a twist: they can either keep it all, keep some of it, or give it all away to another family in a desperate situation.
Only they can be the judge of who is more desperate.
It was cancelled after just one season in the United States after critics called it “repulsive” and “cynical”.
And now Channel 9 has made a local version.
This time it's different, they insist. It's a 'social experiment' (the TV buzzword of the year), an investigation of whether 'it's better to give or receive'.
But it raises major ethical questions. Not just between the contestants, but from television producers who apparently identified the needy families through community groups and support services, and who allegedly told them they were participating in a documentary.
"Both families have no idea their lives are about to change" the voiceover says.
Indeed they did not. They were recruited under the pretense of a 'documentary' and had the money, the ethical dilemma, the entire show construct sprung upon them.
And now, they're at the centre of what is essentially 'desperation porn', where their lives and their decision are left open to an audience to decide: are they greedy for keeping the money? Are they selfish for wanting a holiday? Are their desperate needs MORE desperate than others?
Mark is a full time carer to his wife, Mandy. (Via Channel 9)
When presented with a suitcase of $100,000, Rod McCracken bends down and sniffs the money. "This is Hollywood!" he marvels, explaining that $100,000 is a set of legs for Mandy.