There were nothing but good vibes emanating from Undercover Boss this week, as Joel Manby, CEO of Georgia-based Herschend Family Entertainment, toured some of the various amusement parks in disguise and found smiling employees that gave 110% for their jobs.
In fact, just about the only negative moments in the feel-good reality show came — in an unusual departure for Undercover Boss — at the beginning, with Manby’s own background profile. We were shown pictures of the extreme poverty from which he rose. Manby narrated his initial success within the automobile industry, but said it came at a price. He had a “breakdown,” he said, then amended it to “a meltdown” accompanied by heavy drinking.
Manby obviously pulled himself together, and he quickly credited Herschend Family Entertainment and its “Christian values” for his present prosperity and happiness. I would have liked to have heard more about this. I also would have liked to have heard about the fact that Manby’s company co-owns Dollywood with Dolly Parton. Talk about a missed opportunity: Going undercover as Dolly’s dress-maker or something.
But nope — we had to get to a Georgia amusement park and ride a “duck boat” with a jolly quacker named Howard. Then it was off to Branson, Missouri, to meet Albert, a 20 year-old who’d been working the front gate of that park for six years — he started when he was a mere 14. Hard-working and ambitious, Albert said he wanted to be the CEO of the company, which could have been used for a cheap laugh (saying you want the job of the disguised man sitting right in front of you), but instead, Albert came off as smart and ingenious.
The young man even had some cool-looking plans for new rides of his own, such as an underwater rollercoaster. I was almost shocked that Manby, when doling out rewards at the end of the show in the usual Boss manner, didn’t say anything about Albert’s ride ideas. (Maybe copyright laws had something to do with it.) Hang on to Albert, Manby.
The hour included a woman working in a company-owned aquarium in Camden, N.J., a single mom who’d been homeless before she got her job. Manby was able to help furnish her home.
All of this didn’t make for the most exciting edition of Undercover Boss. But I appreciate the fact that the producers didn’t try to pump up false suspense where they could find none.
Did you watch Undercover Boss this week? What did you think?