Series: What Would You Do?
John Quiñones would like to know.What Would You Do?
(also known as Primetime: What Would You Do?
) is a hidden camera show that airs on ABC
in the United States. The premise is, take a current hot-button issue
, have actors play it out in public, and see if anyone steps in to help.
Unlike most other hidden camera shows, however, this one is produced by ABC's news division, and is hosted by journalist John Quiñones. Comedy is NOT the name of the game here, and the show is instead more of a sociological experiment.
Gained a spinoff in August 2013 known as Would You Fall For That?
, which is essentially a Lighter and Softer
version that doesn't focus on "serious" issues.
Not to be confused with the early-90s Nickelodeon
game show What Would You Do?
This show provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: Quite a few of the scenarios. For example:
- Racial profiling
- Drunk drivers
- Bad Boss:
- One segment took a page out of The Devil Wears Prada and featured a fashionista berating her poor assistant at a New York bistro. The fashionista got called out quite a bit for her bad behavior.
- Another segment had a mother berating a nanny in public.
- Berserk Button:
- The marks tend to really hate seeing service workers getting mistreated by the actors.
- Men also react strongly to women being abused/mistreated.
- Older women have a tendency to want to protect younger girls.
- Child abuse seems to be a Berserk Button for many bystanders.
- Both Sides Have a Point: It's very unusual for this show, as most scenarios are set up with a clearly defined morality problem, but sometimes the show will not take a side.
- One scenario focused on a pregnant teenager's decision to keep her child, and the adoptive parents-to-be who became distraught over the girl's decision. WWYD didn't explicitly side with either party.
- In the scenario dealing with an extreme couponer in a supermarket who ends up holding up the line for over 20 minutes (including leaving the line and coming back with more items that she has coupons for), the show concedes that while it is perfectly okay to use all the coupons you want, it is not okay to piss people off by holding up the line.
- In the scenario dealing with parental use of public shaming to discipline their children, where an actress playing an African-American mother made a boy actor playing her son wear a sandwich board in downtown South Orange, NJ, saying "suspended because I lied and stole", a white woman told her it was disgraceful and humiliating, but then a black woman expressed approval, pointing to the much higher rate of incarceration among young black men (which the show emphasized with a graphic) and said she didn't blame black parents for trying anything they could to make their kids behave.
- Bratty Half-Pint: The focus of one scenario. The producers set up shop in a diner, gave the child actors Nerf guns (among other things), and told the kids to go nuts.
- "Why—" (or "Why not") "—get involved?"
- "Nothing prepared us for the man/woman we're about to meet."
- Christmas Episode: Scenarios in the last episode before the holiday in 2013 were all built around the holiday: a family that couldn't afford the tree it wanted, Santa at a bar getting drunk before starting his shift etc.
- Coming-Out Story: This is a scenario that WWYD explores quite often, since it's a hot-button issue in the USA, and WWYD typically uses it whenever they visit other cities. They also mix it up a bit: usually they play it with a child coming out to a parent, but they've also done it with a parent coming out to a child, a wife/fiancée/girlfriend coming out to her husband/fiancé/boyfriend, or vice versa. Usually it's played with the recepient of the Word of Gay freaking out, in order to elicit reactions from people.
- Conspicuously Light Patch: A variation. Most of the time in crowd shots, people whose faces are not obscured are usually people who will be interviewed about their action (or lack thereof).
- Cool Old Lady: Oh, so many of them, and in all kinds of situations. One example: "Why don't you just shove the stuff up your *bleep* and get out?!"
- Crazy-Prepared: Justified. Whenever WWYD stages a scenario, they keep a security guy nearby to keep the actors safe, and they inform emergency services ahead of time just in case someone calls 911 (which people have).
- Cross Dresser: A Halloween scenario had a "mother" in a Staten Island costume store upset that her son wanted to be a Disney princess, or that her daughter wanted to be Spider-Man.
- Date Rape Averted:
- Very often, people don't let the drugged/drunk/intoxicated girl walk away with the obviously less-than-unsavory fellow who has made it apparent that he's got one thing on his mind.
- Somewhat averted in one scenario, in which a man spikes his date's drink in a crowded bar. Many people saw it, but only two confronted the guy straight up, while others only spoke up after the woman started to complain either of sudden illness or the drink's taste. Those people took action by telling her not to drink from her glass, buying her another drink, and/or giving advice not to drink something left unattended, but never saying that he spiked it.
- Fully averted in one scenario where someone witnessed the spiking but said nothing. When the actress started to feign feeling ill, and the actor playing the guy wanted to take her to his home, The Mark got up and left (only telling another patron the guy was "cheating" before leaving). When the camera crew caught up to the mark, he refused to speak to them.
- The gender flipped version is shown as well. Men were quite reluctant to inform a man if a woman put something in his drink.
- One episode featured a teenage boy borrowing a roofie from a friend in order to use it on a girl. There were several interventions, and in one instance, a nearby off-duty police officer flashed his badge and gave the lad a stern warning.
- Deconstructed Trope: Sometimes WWYD will cite a popular movie or TV show's use of a certain situation, then will go on to show how said situation would be in the real world.
- Deliberately Cute Child: Two segments had a young boy and girl sell hideously overpriced lemonade (in New Jersey) and sweet tea (in Texas). A large cup with a straw, napkin, and umbrella was 30 dollars. Thankfully even Children Are Innocent was averted, with most of the marks calling the kids out on how unfair the pricing was and when the girl actor tried to use a "times are tough" excuse the mark called her out. The pair made 59 dollars (It was all given back). She even made twenty due to how sweet she was being.
- Distracted by the Sexy:
- One episode dealt with bike thefts. A Caucasian male in his twenties was stopped. An African-American male in his twenties was stopped. A buxom blonde in her twenties got guys to help her.
- A businessman left his car, which contained an estimated $10,000 worth of goods, unlocked and unattended. A young Caucasian male got stopped a lot of the time, a young African-American male got stopped all of the time, but a pretty blonde was even able to call over guys to help her carry the expensive stuff out of the car.
- Eagleland: For one scenario, they placed a Type 2 couple in France to test the snooty French stereotype. Aside from some eyerolls and ugly American comments, no French people spoke up—instead, it was another American tourist that called them out. Some of the French people even found them funny instead of obnoxious.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Back when the show was a recurring Primetime special, a few WWYD scenarios seemed a lot more like straight-up Candid Camera Pranks. Take, for instance, the Five Millionth Customer scenario, or the Rude American Tourists scenario.
- Education Mama: One scenario was focused around a mother publicly berating her child for getting an A minus in a diner. The other patrons around them were put off by this. The only person to come to the defense of the mother was an older Asian man who advised the other patrons to stay out of it since they didn't know the circumstances that led to the mother's actions.
- Everything Is Big in Texas: The show had one episode in which they took a bunch of previous scenarios and watched how they played out in the Dallas area to see if they would turn out differently from in the North. Yes, a few mark reactions had conservative and faith-based bents, and nearly all reactions followed the "be good to others" Aesop that WWYD enjoys showcasing.
- Interestingly, the show noted that more Texans spoke out against the waitress berating gay parents than people did in the North. One guy even invoked and paraphrased Jesus to the waitress, telling her, "Don't judge."
- However, the episode's Idiosyncratic Wipes fully invoked Texas stereotypes, including cattle brands, star-shaped tin sheriff badges, cowboy boots, and Western-style fonts.
- Evil Albino: Mentioned by Quiñones in the introduction to a segment dealing with two guys bullying an albino man. Albinos in The Da Vinci Code and The Matrix Reloaded were cited as examples.
- 419 Scam: The focus of one scenario, except tweaked a bit so that it played out via a very public Skype conversation in a New Jersey coffeehouse.
- Fourth Wall Mail Slot: The WWYD crew did a special that was based on viewer submissions, entitled How Would You Do It?
- Gender Flip: Often the show will replay similar scenarios but change the genders of the actors.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Played with during one scenario featuring gay couples kissing in public. When two guys made out, there were abundant protests, including a 911 call and police response (the officer did not know the show had been cleared and got the informing call just as he approached the pair). When it was a female couple, however, there were some protests, but much less than with the guys, and a LOT more male staring. When a group of businessmen were questioned afterwards, they admitted that this trope came into play.
- Gold Digger:
- One episode had a twentysomething blonde girl canoodling with an elderly man in a bar. It was made quite obvious to the bar patrons that the girl was only in it for the money, and aside from a few odd stares, very few people spoke up.
- They repeated the scenario with a Gender Flip: young guy, old lady. Again, it got a few stares, but not really any straightforward intervening.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion:
- One scenario has a family discussing this at a restaurant.
- In another, a teenage girl approaches patrons at a drugstore to ask if they'll buy her some Plan B, because she's too shy and/or embarrassed to do it herself.
- Another episode in Texas had a pregnant teenaged girl publicly mull over whether to get an abortion. All of the people who spoke up suggested she keep the baby.
- Has Two Mommies / Daddies: One segment had a patron at a restaurant react negatively to a gay couple eating there with their children. It was later repeated on the Dallas roadtrip episode, with the waiter throwing them out, which is legal in Texas.
- Hypocritical Humor: The show's most popular segment (based on a viewer poll and ensuing special) had a group of girls bullying another one in a park near a busy walkway. Almost every woman who passed by chose to intervene and often made disparaging remarks about the girls doing the bullying that were as bad or worse than the girls had, sometimes using profanity (which the producers had told the actresses not to do so as not to allow that as an excuse for intervening).
- Improv: Aside from some background information and some general guidelines on how to act, the actors do the scenarios completely in improv.