What Would You Do? (ABC News series)

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What Would You Do?
What Would You Do logo.jpg
Genre Hidden camera series
Presented by John Quiñones
Starring Various actors
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 13
Production location(s) New York metropolitan area (various locations)
(most episodes; some episodes filmed on-location in U.S. states not within the area)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) ABC News Productions
Distributor Disney–ABC Domestic Television
Original network ABC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
720p (HDTV)
Original release February 26, 2008 (2008-02-26) – present (present)
Preceded by Primetime
External links

What Would You Do? (formerly known as Primetime: What Would You Do? through its fifth season) is an American situational hidden camera television program that has been broadcast on ABC since February 26, 2008. It is hosted by news correspondent John Quiñones and was created by Chris Whipple.

The program was conceived as a format-based series for ABC's newsmagazine Primetime, however all on-air references to its parent series were removed from What Would You Do? following the discontinuance of Primetime as a standalone program by the network in 2010 (with subject-based formats of the program, such as Primetime: Family Secrets, airing thereafter during the summer months or as a temporary replacement for entertainment programs cancelled during the fall-to-spring television season).


The program features actors acting out scenes of conflict or illegal activity in public settings while hidden cameras record the scene, and the focus is on whether or not bystanders intervene, and how. Variations are also usually included, such as changing the genders, the races or the clothing of the actors performing the scene, to see if bystanders react differently. Quiñones appears at the end of each scenario to interview bystanders and witnesses about their reactions.

As the experiment goes on, psychology professors, teachers, or club members watch and discuss the video with Quiñones, explaining and making inferences on the bystanders' reactions.

Many of the scenario actors appear in only one or two episodes. Several, however, have become staples of the program, including Yuval David, Diana Henry, Vince August, Jeremy Holm, Michael J. Lyons and Traci Hovel.

Examples of scenarios[edit]

− # A pompous club promoter denies people entry into a club based on their appearance, and is rude, condescending and mean to people. Others in line either step up to defend the victims of the rude behavior or stay silent.

− # A flamboyant hair stylist destroys women's hair. Other clients see the interaction and try to rectify the situation.

− # A transgender woman named Carmen Carrera works at a diner and begins to serve a loyal customer and ultimately informs him that she used to be a man named Chris, during which the customer begins to harass her.

− # A Muslim woman attempts to buy some items from a bakery, though the rude and prejudiced cashier denies any kind of service for her and kicks her out of the store while throwing bigoted comments at her.

− # On a sidewalk, three teenagers beat and taunt a homeless man in front of passersby.

− # Same-sex parents are at a restaurant with their adopted children, though the waiter attempts to kick the family out of the restaurant, claiming that the parents are "messing up the kids".

− # A café manager berates, insults, and attempts to kick a breastfeeding mom out of the store, thinking that she is disturbing other customers around her. There were three alternates used in the experiment, replacing the white woman with an African-American woman, a teenager, and a woman consuming alcohol.

− # Various children (different race in each vandalism) vandalize a car.

− # A grocery bagger with noticeable Down syndrome is insulted and yelled at by a shopper, who calls him a "retard".

− # A woman needs to fill a prescription at a pharmacy, but doesn't have the money to pay for it. Other customers sit and watch in the waiting room, and some offer the woman the money she needs.

− # Multiple men and women of varying races steal items from an open house showing.

− # A young pregnant woman offers her baby to two different couples.

− # An Asian American woman berates and insults her young daughter for getting an A- on a test, later the woman is replaced by a Caucasian woman (this experiment is based on Amy Chua's style of parenting).

− # A sketch artist creates bad drawings after the customers have already paid.

− # A waitress is sexually harassed by her boss in front of customers, first a girl in regular clothes, then one wearing more revealing clothing. Customers usually stand up more for the one in regular clothing.

− # A man accidentally drops an expensive bottle of wine at a liquor store when the manager is not looking. He proceeds to deny responsibility, even blaming other customers and a Latino maintenance employee.

− # A fundamentalist Mormon polygamist family attempts to convince a new underage bride that she must accept her new life; as she cries hysterically, customers begin to notice and eventually threaten to report them for bigamy.

− # A couple bring their children, one of them diagnosed with autism, and a customer gets upset at the autistic behavior and gives the couple unwanted advice, upsetting the diner.

− # A boy scout reveals to two other scouts that he is gay. Diners in the restaurant step into the situation, usually on side with the boy scout, when the other scouts threaten to tell the scout leader (the experiment is based on the controversy of homosexuality in boy scouts).

− # A mother and her children are unable to afford their dream Christmas tree for the holidays, leaving her children visibly upset. Most of the customers who notice step in to comfort them, some even offering to pay for their dream tree.

− # Two army soldiers back from war zone are not allowed to order alcohol because they are under age.

− # Two deaf girls applying for kitchen work at a restaurant are told by the staff, one male and one female, that they will not be hired due to their disability. This scenario was notable for three separate Human Resources managers approaching the staff afterwards and telling them to be more tactful for their own legal protection, rather than opposing the discrimination. One regular customer finally defended the girls saying he would no longer take his business there if they were treated so harshly.

− # An atheist angrily becomes vocal when a Christian family next to him starts praying at a restaurant. Reaction to this scenario was met with negativity from atheists who felt it portrayed them in a bad light.

− # A foster child is abused by his foster mother when they go to a diner with the mother's biological child. Actor Caleb McLaughlin, best known for his role on the Netflix thriller-horror series, Stranger Things, was featured on this episode as the foster child.

− # Two sisters are at a donut store with their mother. One is noticeably larger framed in size, and so is refused a donut by her mother, instead getting a bag of vegetables. The mother also teases the daughter about her weight.

− # A 16-year-old girl has been dating a guy online who said he was her age. They decide to meet in person at a diner and the guy who she was dating online turns about to be a middle-aged man. He then asks her to go back to his house with him.

− # A little girls nanny abuses the child by screaming at her, and calling her stupid in public.

− # A little girls nanny gives her medicine to calm her down and put her to sleep in a cafe because she is acting up.

− # An American couple are in Paris and constantly behave obnoxiously in public, such as being extremely patriotic toward their home country, the husband eating a gigantic bowl of chocolate mousse that is meant to be shared between several tables by himself, trying to order American food in restaurants, wearing inappropriate clothes, talking about inappropriate subjects such as war, and belching loudly in upscale establishments.

− # In an area where bikes are stolen frequently, an actor tries to saw off the bike chain of a bike, claiming it to be their own bike, trying to see if the people would help the actor in the crime. This experiment was tried with a white man, a white woman, and a black man. People were more likely to help the white man or the white woman, (The latter of the two receiving the most help) but in the case of the black man, everybody suspected him, and very few people helped him. When asked if they would have reacted differently if the actor was a different race, the bystanders replied no.

− #A man who is in a relationship with a plus size woman takes her to a restaurant to meet his parents, who remark on her size, and say that she is 'bigger' than what they expected. Model Ashley Graham appeared in this experiment, and revealed her experiences as a plus size woman.

− # Two well bodied women have parked their car in a clearly marked disabled space and take no notice of the warning in front of the spot. A man in a wheelchair comes along and pleads with the women to give him the space, but the girls refuse, telling him to try and arrive earlier and saying that he is on wheels already.

− # A young girl abuses her nanny by treating her like a maid.

− # A man tries to sell fake tickets to an unsuspecting customer.

− # A white woman introduces her boyfriend-who is Indigenous American-to her white parents, who subject him to racist abuse.

− # A woman is denied entry into a bar because she is overweight.

− # A boy wants to get a doll, however the mother refuses because she thinks it's a "girl's toy", and tells him to get what she considers a "boy's toy".

− # A woman brings her boyfriend, who is Jewish, to meet her family, who are Catholics. Her parents disapprove of him, and utter rude, disgusting Jewish stereotypes.

− # A woman meets her parents in a restaurant, in order for them to meet her fiancé. Upon realising that their daughter is a lesbian, they start to disapprove of her.


Reruns of older What Would You Do? episodes began airing on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on February 15, 2011, under the title What Would You Do?: OWN Edition (in a manner similar to the specialized network-based titles of other network newsmagazines aired in the form of episode compilations on cable channels such as Dateline on ID and 48 Hours on ID on Investigation Discovery).

Reruns of the series began airing on HLN in 2013, as part of the cable news channel's primetime schedule.[1][2] In the United States, the show can be seen on A&E since 2015.


  • 2007–2008: #81, 8.0 million[3]
  • 2008–2009: #79, 6.8 million[4]
  • 2009–2010: #90, 5.7 million[5]
  • 2010–2011: #123, 4.9 million[6]
  • 2011–2012: #123, 5.0 million[7]
  • 2012–2013:
  • 2013–2014: [1]
  • 2014–2015: [2]

2014 Season

  • August 1: 3.65 million viewers [3]

2015 Season

  • May 29: 5.034 million viewers [4]
  • June 5: 4.66 million viewers [5]
  • June 12: 4.64 million viewers [6]


External links[edit]