I was flipping around the old boob tube again making my way through the block of “news” channels when I ran across a show that never fails to annoy me. It wasn’t a news show because the odds of finding news on one of the 24 hour news channels is about one in three. But that’s a complaint for another time.

The show in question is called: “The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch”. The premise behind the show it that the host, Donny Deutsch, interviews celebrities and business people about their success and how they achieved it. Donny is a bit of a kiss ass especially with some of the more famous celebrities but that only bothers me in a minor way. Most interviewers are kiss asses otherwise they won’t get other interviews.

No, what bothers me is that this show’s main reason for being is supposedly to let us all in on the secrets to success so we too can emulate these smiling people who all have plenty of money in the bank and who float along on a happy cloud all day. Seriously, this show has some of the giddiest guests you’ve ever seen. Being that a lot of then were basic middle class people who hit it big you can understand their fits of giggles. Still, it’s not the people themselves who bother me. It’s the “advice”. It’s nearly all useless.

The show only shows you the ones who made it. Often the reason one person makes it and the other doesn’t is just dumb luck. So when Donnie asks them how they made it we end up hearing such wonderful advice as, “You gotta pound the pavement” and “You gotta have a web site”. Huh? That’s it? That’s what you got for us?

Donnie Deutsch is clearly a bright guy. He can ask some clear and precise questions. But he buys into the “everyone can succeed if they just try hard” story when life proves over and over that is not the case.

The guests come in three categories:

The Hollywood celebrity type who is one of the beautiful people and has managed to parlay that into a career in acting, singing, or whatever. When they are asked about their success they give useless answers that wouldn’t help a single one of us non-beautiful people. Not one of them is as smart as Paul Newman who when asked what was the secret of his success said, “Dumb luck”.

The business tycoon type who was born wealthy and gained even more money throughout his life so he thinks he’s special and actually deservers all his riches. Donnie really kisses these guys’ butts. No one ever says the secret to their success is to have wealthy parents. The lack of insight is astounding.

Joe or Jane middle class who came up with some product and hit it big. These people have smiles so wide they can’t stop grinning. They’re like the proverbial deer in the headlights. Everything went right for them and they’re living the capitalist dream. They are all generally pretty nice but their advice is usually around the “go for your dream” level of banality. Donnie eats that stuff up.

I want to hear from the failures. At least some of the time. Dumb luck can be blinding and a lot of the people on this show can’t see a thing. People can learn a lot of things by analyzing why the failed. Trying something and not succeeding will make a curious person wonder why and then try another way. I lot of knowledge can be gained by trying these various ways.

Meanwhile most people don’t want to give luck credit for their success. People want to think they deserve success. That they are special. So they mythologize their rise to fame and fortune. That’s what annoys me so much about this show. All the mythology masquerading as fact. Most of the advice should be followed by, “And you gotta get lucky”…

Alright, I was flipping the channel and landed on “The Big Idea” again just long enough to catch a “plan for making you first million in five years”. Step one was “make a sacrifice”. The women lived in a cheap $300 a month apartment (this was in 1988). That was her big sacrifice. Step two, and I love this, was to save $300,000 in two years. What the hell? Even with a $300 dollar apartment who can save 300 grand in two years? That means you’re making 200 grand a year. And if you can do that you are well on your way to a million. This show is lunacy.