The TV news talk show has been done to death, and you’d be hard-pressed to find one that looks and feels new. Enter SBS VICELAND’s The Business of Life, the youthful panel show that almost looks like a living, breathing version of something like Slate.com.
Each week, a topic relevant to the here and now is mined by an expert panel and backed by expert use of the modern infographic. Firmly fixed on the future while still nodding at the tradition of talk TV, The Business of Life promises to invigorate your attitude towards this tried and tired mode of information delivery.
Exposed foundations, barely rendered brickwork, mock scaffolding and white stage blocks make up The Business of Life set. Reminiscent of a New York loft apartment (at least, a movie depiction of one), coupled with an air of Sydney’s Carriageworks, it's the hippest set a news talk show has ever seen.
Integration. While the host and panellists take centre stage, it’s more a case of theatre in the round with the lights on. When they're not cutting to the ethnically diverse, mainly youthful audience for a question or pensive close-up, they're showing them in the background of almost every other shot, lending the proceedings an unusually intimate air.
The episode-specific topics are forward-thinking and focused on the changing nature of our modern world. Such episodes as "How Big Data Could Reshape the American Workforce", "Millennial Veterans and the Cost of War" and "Why is College So Expensive?" have already aired. Coming up are equally fascinating concerns such as "Why Pay Your Taxes?", "Are Startups Helping or Hurting?" and "DIY Filmmaking and the End of Hollywood".
The Business of Life lives to reference data in the least dry fashion possible. Statistics are their thing, and they’ve basically built the show around them. Riffing on the popularity of the online infographic, the show is never far away from its next sexy data visualisation, complete with large, italicised CAPS, projected on one of the set’s many screens.
While it may seem that a talk show targeted at millennials would only include millennial voices, luckily The Business of Life opts for skill set over age. Of course, there is definitely a prevalence towards the younger end of the age spectrum (which is a refreshing change from shows like Q&A), but the diversity of the panel ensures the open-plan set doesn’t turn into an echo chamber.
Due to the staging of The Business of Life, any interaction with the audience could have been a logistical nightmare. In most talk shows, the idea of an illustrious panel member being forced to turn around to meet an audience member’s eye-line would be blasphemy. Luckily, The Business of Life suffers from no such dustiness and panellists swivel around in their chairs to whichever angle the question is coming from. Respect.
Watch The Business of Life on Saturdays at 6pm on SBS VICELAND.
Missed the last episode? Watch it right here at SBS On Demand: