Pilot Season
fiction by James Brubaker

"Credit Busters"

A reality-style game show in which two challengers, competing head-to-head, attempt to accrue as much debt as possible by purchasing an assortment of high-end consumer goods. The winning debtor receives debt consolidation services and all interest paid on his or her purchases until said purchases are paid off, while the loser is left to be crushed beneath the weight of so much debt. The first segment of each episode follows contestants as they attempt to acquire enough credit—both through establishing multiple lines, and receiving high limits on those lines—to effectively accrue the debt needed to win. In each episode’s second segment, the contestants spend money on various luxury goods, the camera lingering, lovingly, on each item. Finally, every episode ends with a tally of how much the contestants spent, and a declaration of the winner. In the pilot episode, the winning contestant works with five different credit cards and two loans to purchase a 46” Yalos Diamond flat-screen television (studded with 160 twenty-karat diamonds); a Beefeater Gold Plated Barbecue Grill; a pair of dress shoes by Testoni; one semester of coursework at Fordham University; season tickets, behind home plate, for the New York Yankees; and a house. The loser of the contest attempts to outspend his rival by sending elaborate floral arrangements to every person he has ever met, and purchasing 500,000 butterflies to release throughout the New York City subway system during peak hours. Unfortunately, the second contestant loses and learns that it may have been a better strategy to purchase goods that could be returned instead of the pure but fleeting manifestations of beauty on which he spent his money. The winning contestant returns and cancels many of his purchases at the end of the episode, but retains his Yankees tickets and his Testoni dress shoes. The losing contestant, having made the world a more beautiful place for as many people as he could, takes his own life after realizing he is millions of dollars in debt.