Undercover Boss - Martha Grover

Undercover Boss


There are standard tropes – one being that the undercover boss is invariably clumsy and bad at the job. The young man training him finds him to be a moron and tells the camera in private, that he doesn’t think the undercover boss is cut out for this work and probably won’t last. The undercover boss will be impressed by the young female coworker who also helps train him. She is likeable and relates to him with teasing and joking. She confesses to him, as they close shop, that she wants to go back to school one day to get her cosmetology license.  Later, in his empty hotel room, the undercover boss tells the camera that this is a hard job, harder than he thought. He is exhausted and his feet hurt.


And most predictably, he will shed a tear, or even break into sobs, upon hearing how the older counter woman sacrifices for her children, one of whom has a learning disability, or how the cashier, the ex-con that got his life back on track after being a homeless drug addict, now credits the franchise for keeping him on the straight and narrow.


Back at his hotel room, he sits in front of the camera and tells it how touched he was by his employee’s confessions – at how much these individuals sacrifice to help run his company, how much they have struggled, yet still have such “a positive attitude.” He seems to imply that if he were in their shoes, his attitude would not be so positive. His revelations also imply that the undercover boss never realized before this very moment how unfair life is.


At the end of the show, during the big reveal, the young female coworker is given a check for education, often just enough to let her take classes while still working part time in her entry-level position. She cries. The young man that trained him, and thought he was a moron, gets a promotion. He wipes away a tear. The people that have touched him emotionally, with their positive attitudes and hard luck stories, are given money with no strings attached – just a check. They smile and sometimes cry, but usually they just grin and nod, as if this kind of thing happened to them all the time.