***Please welcome your newest recapper to the fold, Alejandra!!
Hooters CEO Coby Brooks goes undercover for a week, and realizes that kitchen work is hard, Hooters girls are people, and that without his goatee, he looks like a totally different human being.
Admit it. After looking at this picture you want to drink a beer and squeeze something.
Undercover Boss opens with… a really intense intro. A gravelly-voiced announcer accompanied by “Apprentice”-type music tells us the economy has fallen on rough times. Many Americans blame wealthy CEOs for being out of touch with what’s going on in their own companies. For the record, this American thinks that’s bullshit, and that most CEOs aren’t so much out of touch with their companies, but in touch with a capacity for greed that rivals the Middle Age dipshits so desperate for coin they tried to turn lead into gold. But, according to CBS there are some bosses who are, in fact, not greedy, but altruistic, and concerned for the well-being of their employees. Like this guy.
No autographs, please.
Because if you want to prove you’re in touch with the common man, TV’s the place to do it. And who’s our lucky man this week? Mr. Hooters himself, Coby Brooks. He’s gonna schlep wings for a few weeks in the hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of a restaurant no more complicated than a one-stop shop for food, booze, boobs and acrylic nails. Onward Christian soldier! In the midst of our intro are title cards saying things like “No one knows – THE TRUTH!” and “No one knows – HE’S THE BOSS.” -in case you were flummoxed by the title.
No, they do not serve owl.
We begin with some background information on Hooters – it’s headquartered in Atlanta and it’s based on three founding principles – wings, beer and waitresses with giant knockers. If that wasn’t enough to communicate the inherent objectification and chauvinism of such a business plan, Brooks is introduced as one who “rules this roost.” Awesome. Just so you know, that is the first out of three or four times Hooters employees are referred as animals in this episode. Cut to a montage of him talking about Hooters as the best company in the world as he rides on a private jet flanked by two hoes who’ve climbed to the tippity top of their particular Hooters ladder, driving a speedboat, hopping into a Hummer limo and riding this motorcycle.
In case that’s hard to read, it says Hooters and Owlaw in flames on the engine. Douchbags!!! This is your king!!!
He talks about how awesome it is to go to store openings in limos, and walking up the red carpet with the Hooters girls all around. There’s a sign out in front of his corporate headquarters that identifies him as “The Wing Commander.” This man measures his penis every. Single. Morning.
He begins to tell us the history of Hooters, which I am going to predict has something to do with a bunch of middle aged pussies who wanted to drink beer around big boobs, but didn’t want to get in trouble for going to a strip club. I’m also willing to bet there were one or two divorcee investors who thought this would just be the perfect place to find wife number four. Coby says… In 1983 a bunch of guys wanted to start a place where they could, and I quote, “go have a beer… and not get thrown out.” Which, frankly, is bullshit because it is fucking easy to get thrown out of a Hooters. The three principles that business is based on are barfing, groping and A-cups. Coby’s dad went into business with them, took it national and from the photos they show, apparently became some sort of food service Hugh Hefner.
What if this was your grandfather…?
Coby and his dad didn’t get along, his brother died in a corporate plane crash, and Coby basically said, “Fuck all this boobs and money business, I’m gonna be a cop!” But before he could lead a life of any real value, Daddy took him into the boardroom, told him just how much money and boobs would be available for Coby if he started working for Hooters and the rest is history.
Now, of course, Coby enjoys the perks of his CEOdom, but it is hard because he’s got, you know, work to do, stores to open, vaginas to explore, and it takes time away from his kids. And in case you were wondering, no, of course he is not married. He does love being a single dad, though – bet it helps him score almost as often as his money. He goes on to illustrate that the Hooters name is its biggest strength, but also its biggest weakness given what it stands for. Now, I didn’t know this, but apparently Hooters ruffles some feathers of the conservative/feminist variety. Personally, I really just wish they’d stop using that patronizing fucking owl mascot. Objectify me all you want Man’s World, but please don’t insult my intelligence with stupid jokes. Coby explains that the bad economy, coupled with restaurant’s reputation has caused a drop in sales. He hopes that by going undercover, he can find a way to expand the customer base. Just want to point out that the only reason Mr. Brooks has articulated for going undercover was to increase his profit margin – no mention of helping his employees whatsoever. Oh yeah, this guy’s a model of selflessness.
We await our master.
He explains his ideas to his executive boardroom which is filled with a bunch of tanned dudes on their way to beer guts and bloated faces and at least one woman who hates her life. They have nothing constructive to say whatsoever except that Coby’s picture is everywhere in the Hooters nation, so they’re wondering how exactly this “undercover” work is going to take place. Coby doesn’t know either, and that’s as far as this conversation goes. Whew, that is one crack executive team you got there, Cobs.
Coby heads out to his adventure and starts to implement his secret identity. He’s going to be Scotty Archer, a failed construction worker who wants go in a completely different direction in his life. His master disguise? He shaves his goatee. I would make some joke about Clark Kent and those fucking glasses, except the dude’s entire face literally changes. He went from being mildly attractive King of the Douchbags to a CPA. He gets to his motel in Dallas and prepares to engage in some good old menial labor.
Asset analysis anyone?
He’s anxious on his first day, apparently having woken up every couple of hours worried about his cover being blown. Dude, you’re the CEO. If your cover is blown, you’re gonna get some free beer and a titty fuck. This isn’t the CIA. The Hooters in downtown Dallas is their biggest one, and he’s going to work in the kitchen. He explains that a lot of focus is put on the Hooter girls, but not so much on the back of house “where the magic happens that makes the girls look so good.” Yeah, that particular brand of magic takes place in a plastic surgeon’s office – not a kitchen. Coby hasn’t worked in a kitchen in 20 years, so this is gonna be hilarious. I hope he deep fries something he shouldn’t… The GM tells him about all the different kinds of bitchwork he’ll be doing, which involves a lot trash hauling, chicken washing and heavy lifting.
He’s asking after the function of the soft piece of fabric in his hand.
Coby is slow, squeamish and breaks things. There are lots of Latino dudes that keep smiling into the camera and I’m betting Coby is wishing he paid a little more attention in Spanish class about now. By the end of day, the GM thinks he sucks, and Coby continues to talk about the fact that it’s been twenty whole years since he did any kitchen work. I’m betting the real story here is that the son of the guy who owned Hooters didn’t have to do a whole lot of kitchen work growing up. He sucks so badly, that the manager straight up sends him home early and bitches about all the work his staff has to do to clean up after him. And even though the manager appears to have spent most of the day with Scotty, Coby claims that obviously not enough attention is being paid to the kitchen staff and how hard they work.
He was told he could keep the hat and shirt, but the apron stayed with Dave.
His second day has him doing promotional work for the restaurant with two Hooters girls. His ladies, Brittany and Amanda, give him a jumpsuit and a t-shirt that is too small, explaining to him that all the shirts are too small, but they have to wear them, so so does he. Brittany even goes so far as to explain that she always rips her seams because her boobs are too big. Jesus Christ, strippers have more control over their lives. Coby completely ignores the fact that his company doesn’t feel it’s necessary to provide uniforms that fit, and talks about how glad he is to get in touch with everyday folk so he can see what he needs to do to increase his customer base. With that, team Menage a Trois hits the streets!
This man did accept a coupon.
They start passing out fliers for cheap beer and free chicken parts to dudes, and otherwise engage in the easiest job on the planet. That is… until a woman shows up! Neither young nor big-chested – a natural enemy of the Hooters Corporation. Let’s reinforce some stereotypes, CBS! Of course she would be negative, considering any woman that’s above 25 and doesn’t use her breasts for money, clearly must like to spend all her time hating on a shitty restaurant. There’s also a family that stops by and says they wouldn’t be able to take their children there.
This woman did not accept a coupon.
The future Mensa members that are Coby’s two assistants reason that certain opinions probably have something to do with what they wear, which they don’t find degrading at all, and look sad (and stupid) when a woman gently tells them that she wouldn’t want her daughter, sister or any woman she cares about working in such a place. This breaks Coby’s poor little heart because up until now, he had not considered that some women and children might not be comfortable in his trashy, trashy franchise. He wonders what bars these families ARE going to, if not his. He just doesn’t understand why there’s still a stigma around a girl with boobs that literally break the seams of her shirt, serving drunken guys beer and wings.
He says one of the cornerstones of the Hooters franchise is the Hooter girl and her ass-showing, boob-popping, camel-toe giving uniform, and he has to find a way to increase the customer base without messing with the uniforms. Two words, Coby: gay bars. He asks the girls if the woman’s comments would change their mind about working for the company, and they emphatically say no, because regardless of what meanies say, their husbands are still going to come in. I want to be friends with Brittany and Amanda about as much as I would like to eat a cockroach.
Coby spends the night in his motel room a sad fucking monkey, because he apparently forgot that the girls who work for him might as well have slutbag tattooed on their forehead. He then hilariously iterates that his own daughters are very excited to work at Hooters some day – a fact that surprises me not at all.
Never, EVER touch motel comforters!
Next stop, South Arlington, Texas where Coby has been promoted to Assistant Managers. I can’t help but notice that all of the stores that Hooters thought would provide good fodder for a TV show happen to be located in Texas… Coby explains that the GM is like a coach, who has to manage and motivate his team in order to succeed. I’m shocked to notice that that’s been our only sports metaphor thus far… And oh… oh my God. I knew there had to be some epic reality television in here.
Douchbaggery, thy name is Jimbo.
Here are some facts about him it took me less than five seconds to learn:
Occupation: General Manager of a Texas Hooters
10am Toothpick Position: In Mouth
Commonly Used Phrases: Two shakes of a lamb’s tail, we gotta get rockin’ and a’rollin’, chop chop, and lots of “dude”
Estimated size of penis: 2-3 inches when hard
Jimbo explains the day to Coby in a manner the intensity of which has probably rivaled that of a suicide bomber or two. Especially when he talks about “inspecting” the girls during uniform line up because Hooters does not put out an inferior “product.” See, told you he was gonna be epic.
When his employees make mistakes, Jimbo’s the kind of guy who tells them they don’t want it enough.
He also explains that its Coby’s job to blow him away today because 50 other guys are in line for this, the Holy Grail of assistant manager positions. If 20 years from now I were to find out that Jimbo here had ditched the crew-cut and the toothpick to go run a blueberry farm in Vermont with his partner Steve, I would not in the least bit be surprised.
What’s your pleasure, Sir?
Uniform line up! Jimbo introduces Coby as Scotty and tells the girls they are free to call him Scooter. He also refers to Coby as the “man in Amsterdam today” and Coby’s face nearly freezes he’s cringing so hard. The girls dutifully line up to be “inspected” in a scene that reminds me of that show “Cathouse” on HBO. It’s Bethany who sacrifices her dignity first as Jimbo inquires of Coby as to whether or not her hair is styled and she’s wearing makeup. She is, and that earns her a sugar cube from Jimbo and a pat on the boobs as she canters back to the stable. Another filly trots up and by golly her nails aren’t done, so no sugar for her, only lame jokes about how nail polish might be an option. I think the part that pisses me off the most about Jimbo right now is that he’s currently leaning on the counter with his giant tush sticking out in one of the most fey stances I’ve ever seen.
Hey Asshole, time to lean is time to clean.
Coby interviews, holding back vomit that while Jimbo obviously has a handle on the Hooters brand, the man isn’t exactly up on how the “brand” should be treated.
The day begins and appears to be going swimmingly. Jimbo teaches Coby secret of restaurant management – the spinning tray, and lets out a near orgasmic yell when he manages to toss it in the air and catch on one finger. Simple pleasures. The day goes on, and oh look! Someone brought a baby! To a bar! A waitress and Coby ooh and aah over the baby for all of five seconds until Coby hears an angry “Scooter!” behind him and knows he’s in trouble. He correctly guesses that Jimbo has a problem with his management staff liking children. Jimbo sneers, “Rookie.” as Coby walks away chastened. I’d like to point out that this is the first season of what amounts to a hidden camera show, so everyone on it, including Jimbo here is being GEN-U-INE.
The lunch rush ends, so it’s time to send some extraneous servers home. As opposed to implementing a logical in first, out first kind of thing, Jimbo uses this opportunity to get back at all the pretty girls who ever rejected him on sight by making the servers play demeaning games to see who gets to leave. One girl asks what she’s supposed to do if she has school and needs to leave, but loses that day’s game of Strip Red Rover. Jimbo gleefully says she will play his reindeer games and that’s all there is to it. As the herd is dismissed, Jimbo turns to Coby and suggests that they make the girls have a hands-free bean-eating contest, cuz it’ll be fun to git’em all dirty and messed up. Coby tentatively asks if the girls like these kinds of games, and Jimbo immediately counters with the fact that they’re all prima-donnas and need that pesky self-esteem taken down a few notches. At this point, it’s not even sexual what he’s doing – it’s punishment, and far more degrading than a tiny tank top.
Looks like dog food, doesn’t it?
Jimbo sets out the beans, and the servers protest, but eventually cave. Can’t say I blame them. If it were between a little dignity and getting the fuck out of Jimbo’s black hole of suck, I’d at least think about it for a second. The girls chow down handsless and all of a sudden my horse metaphors become even more creepily, creepily apt. Coby watches in horror as Jimbo shouts shit like “Whoo doggie!” to the girls, all of whom are aware that they are currently being referred to as either dogs or cows. Coby says that it’s very hard to bite his tongue on this one, and that if he could break cover, grab Jimbo by the ear and have a long, serious talk with him. I wish he had just so I could have seen Jimbo sit on him until the CEO cried uncle. Coby needs to fire that fucker’s ass before a there’s a lawsuit – ain’t no talkin’ to be done about it. Sorry for the apostrophes, they’ve been in Texas or Atlanta for almost the entire show now, and it’s catchin’.
I put my head in my hands every time I look at this picture.
Job 4 brings Coby to Fort Worth to work under a female manager to find out what her obstacles might be. He says he can’t guess as to what they would be, but he’s ready to find out. I’m guessing 90% of her obstacles have to do with beer, penises and boobs all in such close quarters. Marcee walks with Coby around the restaurant and aside from being a little intense, she’s kind of awesome running around multitasking, getting her hands dirty, and generally having her shit together. Since this is reality television something must be wrong with this picture, and this is when we find out she’s got two kids to support. Sad music starts as Coby believes that she’s going to crack under the pressure at some point. Not that I disagree with him, but I have a sneaking suspicion there’s a dishwasher in that restaurant with six kids and two other jobs that would have incurred a little more of my sympathy.
Marcee rocks it out.
Job 5 is the processing plant that Coby’s dad started in 1966 and is also where some Hooters sauces and whatnot are made. Yippee. Apparently since Hooter Sr. passed away, morale has been down, and Coby hasn’t been in the plant since he was 16. I’m guessing employee complaints will be addressed, but only as a way to legitimize what is, I’m sure, going to be a whole lot of daddy issues from Coby. He needs help sneaking into the plant given that even though he hasn’t visited in awhile, he’s still a recognizable face to many of the workers. One of his contacts is Patti, the business manager, who shares her own concerns about morale before they shuffle Coby in through the back. This is going to be uplifting, I can tell.
Patti has judgmental eyes.
He immediately gets put to work filling up plastic buckets with Hooters Wing Sauce – medium, and stacking it on a pallet. Ricky, Coby’s guide through the perils of bucketing, we find out has worked for the plant for three years. He says he never got to meet the old owner, but that everyone really misses him. Coby patiently waits for Ricky to say something about the owner’s son, but Ricky shows no sign that he’s aware of Coby’s secret identity. Since we can’t see beyond Coby’s face mask, I’m not sure of his expression, but there’s some sad music, so I bet it’s a frown that is not upside down.
Ricky and Coby continue to talk about Hooter Sr. and how his passing affected company. Ricky mentions something about lowered bonuses and that people don’t really want to be there. Coby asks if the plantworkers hate the current owner, but Ricky, knowing just how to drive the stake, says nobody really knows the Hooter Sr.’s son, so he’s never mentioned. Right now, Coby is has a craving for a motorcycle between his thighs that rivals a tweeker’s desire for sweet, sweet Crystal. More talking with Patti confirms that he needs to be more of a presence at the plant to act as a reassuring presence to the workers. He interviews at the end of the day that all he wants to do is make his dad proud, so that’s what he will try to do.
The hat over the hairnet is the best part.
So the week is over, and the executive team lip services that they agree Jimbo needs to be taken to the woodshed, and they nod a lot at Coby’s decision to spend more time at the plant. Again, this is a crack executive team. Crack. And now the employees are arriving – Marcee’s nervous, and Jimbo’s excited because he totally thinks this is a promotion. Coby reveals himself first to his promo girls, thanking them for the tight shir,t and they’re all a-giggle when he tells them that he wants them to have a more active position in the marketing of the company. By this he means for them to be a bigger piece of the promotional videos and print materials. The Hooter Girl stereotype is even more cemented shut as the girls applaud this decision because being on camera and getting their pictures taken will prove to people that they are more than just bodies, but real people. With fake parts.
I don’t think Amanda’s hair is styled. Jimbo!
Next up is Dave, the manager that worked with and axed Coby on his first day of kitchen work. In appreciation for how hard that work is, Hooters’ gift to Dave is a $50,000 donation to Operation Home Front in Dave’s name. Again, this is all well and good, but maybe they could, you know, buy the actual kitchen guys a pizza or something… We continue this theme of underappreciation masked as appreciation with Marcee. Coby acknowledges that her job is way too stressful, and that she is truly worn out. Because he doesn’t want to lose such a good worker, he tells her he is sending her and her family on an all expenses paid vacation, anywhere in the world, so she can rejuvenate. Proving just how exhausted she must be and how long it must have been since she’s been anywhere beyond 30 miles of Dallas, Marcee starts straight up crying her eyes out. If I were Marcee, I would have politely asked for a raise as opposed to something totally fucking impractical.
I really, really hope she went somewhere fantastic and not, like, South Padre Island.
And it’s Jimbo’s turn. Coby’s not looking forward to it, but I sure as hell am. Fortunately for his job, Jimbo does not address Coby as Scooter when they meet. Unfortunately for my own entertainment, he also does not literally shit his pants when Coby reveals himself, but instead acts fairly nonplussed. BOOORRRING. Coby tells Jimbo that his girls deserve more respect, and that they can’t all be prima donnas. Jimbo nods obediently to this, but his body language is piiiiissed.
Look at him lick his lips in consternation.
I wish it were a part of his real language, but it’s not. The rest of the meeting is Coby giving Jimbo a stern talking to about the way he treats the girls, and communicating that Coby’s daughters would sure as shit never set foot within 30 feet of Jimbo. Jimbo “gets it,” and heads back to South Arlington, where he can vent his rage on his employees and there will be no one there to him tell him not to. Way to problem solve that potential lawsuit, Cobs.
At the end of the week, Coby holds a rally for Hooters employees detailing his experience, and makes an inspiring speech about how he’s going to better time manage so employees with kids can have less stress, they’re going to do a new marketing campaign that will show the world what a real Hooters girl is, and he’s going to continue to try and live up to his father’s legacy. Brittany and Amanda simper at how nice it is that people care about them, and their disgustingly shallow smiles and painfully evident vapidity tell me they probably don’t need many more men “caring” about them, and that they didn’t hate their current job as much as Coby probably thought they did. Title cards tell us that they now work for Hooters PR and will star in a training video. Because an in-house training video will go a long way toward telling the outside world what a real Hooters girl is. Marcee’s say she had a great time on her vacation and supposedly took a less stressful job at Hooters to spend more time with her kids. Did they make her a hostess or something, because I imagine a pay cut isn’t going to make Marcee’s life any easier. And finally Jimbo. Epic, epic Jimbo. Jimbo apparently formally apologized to his staff, and “changed his management style.” I really cannot think of a company that does less in lawsuit prevention than Hooters. Here’s hoping there’s an angry Hooters girl out there who’s in law school on her way toward being on retainer with the company, and billing them out of millions of dollars they will almost certainly piss away.
I think, like, 30 Hooters employees were invited to this thing, and the rest watched it with you and me.
Oh, and I guess Coby did more walk-throughs of his dad’s plant, but I’m not sure because the last we heard from them was his end of day conversation with the business manager about how he wanted to make his dad proud. Glad there was some closure there. Good luck, Ricky!
Coby wonders if he should have invited anyone from the plant to the rally…