Thursday, April 18, 2013

Money Morons: Gail Vaz-Oxlade Is Back

"Yes, you're perfectly right. I'm b-a-c-k!"
And Gail Vaz-Oxlade lets out that mighty laugh of hers.
Without missing a beat she's jumped from one hot reality series, Til Debt Us Do Part to the more toughly titled Money Morons.
But the basic premise of both shows remains remarkably similar.
Gail is still dishing out her brand of tough love when it comes to balancing the books and escaping from a life free of debt.
"I think after the seventh series of TDDUP I wanted not out but a different emphasis," she says on the phone to promote the premiere of Money Morons which revs up with back-to-back new episodes Friday April 19 at 9 p.m. on Slice.
"The first series was on for quite a while --we eventually did nine seasons of 13 episodes. But people keep asking me why I only helped couples.
"And I came to agree with them that the concept could be broadened to include singles, seniors, the divorced, you name it, anyone experiencing money difficulties. And that's what we're going to do here although we actually start with a young couple."
The couple in question, young sweethearts James and Deanna are both prospective actors living in the basement of her parents.
But they are knee high in debt and facing more challenges by the day.
"You have to understand I play no part in selecting the guests," Gail says. "It's an arduous process that involves screening prospective candidates, doing a screen test.--a demo reel. I think we want to avoid doing the same story week after week."
The host gets involved only at a later stage when she reads what they've written up --in this case she finds a young couple with $40,000 worth of debt and facing more in the future.
And then there's the girlfriend's desire for a hefty wedding that would have them owing more than $55,000.
"It's really a simple story," Gail admits. "They aren't making enough for the life style they're trying to maintain and that debt keeps growing. At the rate they're paying it off they'll be 67 before they're debt free."
"My approach certainly is no nonsense. In one upcoming episode a couple got very mad at me and that continued right to the end of the program. But that's their problem. I'm there to criticize what mistakes they are consistently making. And I help them if they really want to become debt free.
"I crunch the numbers. it usually hits them hard because they have no idea what they're doing.
"It's true that becoming a debtor knows no gender bias. Both sexes do it. Some of these people are actually affluent. One study I saw said these people should pay off small debts, too. Which is crazy --that teaches these people to just keep on with their life styles."
There are plenty of dramatics in every story. "The thing is these emotions are real. We just stand back and let them react. I see so much denial at first. Because their actions have been shocking."
In the case of James and Deanna part of the recovery process involves getting these two aspiring actors to put on a show where they act out (comedically of course) their frustrations and their road to economic recovery.
"You see me at the show. It was funny, they do have talent. For another girl I get her to paint out her troubles on canvas."
Gail believes there's been a fundamental switch in household economics starting in the Sixties when credit cards replaced real money."We just as a society are no longer used to paying our bills all time. Eventually it builds up and there's a meltdown."
The saga of  love birds Deanna and Jameswasn't the first new episode Gail filmed --"but it's the one the producers thought the most dramatic. We shoot an enormous amount of material for each show --up to 30 hours. And then it is tightly edited down to 21 minutes. I think there's a lot of real drama there."
Gail laughs she's recognized "all over the place. I have to be careful out there. When I was buying clothes for my young son years ago the sales lady asked if I really wanted to buy that much. It was for half a year but she though she'd caught me being too spendthrift.
"I think I had educated her through the show and now she wanted to protect me!"
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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