By Elaine James
Premiering Sunday night, THE MESSENGERS sent 10 contestants to face the harsh reality of being homeless for 24 hours on the downtown streets of Los Angeles′ Skid Row. Dropping them off in the poorest section of the city, their bus driver, once homeless himself, gives the contestants tips on how to seek out shelter and find food before leaving them to fend for themselves.
Now at the mercy of the streets and its inhabitants, the contestants face their fears of the raw city. Many have emotional breakdowns as they are exposed to the stories of the homeless. The residents of Skid Row make it very obvious to the contestants that though they would be going home to their normal lives after 24 hours; this is the normal life for the thousands of homeless that live on Skid Row. This simple truth helped the contestants realize the despair, heartbreak, and determination from the people who call these streets home. The next morning, their "bus driver" returns to reveal that is actually the director of operations for the Midnight Mission homeless shelter who, despite being a Stanford graduate, hit rock bottom and found himself living on these streets for 17 years.
The contestants were given the topic of "Charity" and the advice from panelists Richard Greene and Bobby Schuller to "make it authentic." The contestants took this advice to heart to pull from their experiences and present 10 very unique speeches to a studio audience. Told to vote for the contestant who moved them the most, the audience makes the decision of who will stay to continue on the next round.
With the least amount of votes, Floyd Nolan, self-described "truth seeker" was sent home. His laid-back style and way too beyond the norm speech that opened with the phrase, "I′m gonna make this quick because I gotta pee," lost him credibility with the audience and therefore sent him back to his California home.
The foundation of each episode, airing Sundays at 10:00 pm EST on TLC, is a field trip designed to give the speakers a profound learning experience - the opportunity to live life by walking in someone else′s shoes. In subsequent episodes, field trips will range from the participants living as a blind or wheelchair-bound individual for a day, to sharing in a powerful moment of forgiveness between a man convicted of vehicular homicide and the deceased mother. At the end of each trip, the group is given the speaking topics and will appear before a studio audience. At the conclusion of the series, one speaker will be crowned THE MESSENGER and will be awarded a publishing deal and the opportunity to host their own TLC special.