Posted December 13 2012 - 10:52 AM
Most of these "reality shows" on History Channel and A&E are at best loosely scripted/staged, and at worst completely scripted.
Some, like Pawn Stars and American Restoration, falsify the "impromptu" walk-ins to the shops - these are arranged meetings and usually they have decided beforehand what the price is and whether the item will be sold. But at least on these shows the basic truth is that these are real places you can go and get those services, in principal. Just don't expect to see the main guys on the show when you walk into the Pawn Shop, because they don't actually work regular shifts like they portray. And at least with American Restoration you can see the general process of how they restore an item.
A show like American Pickers I'm less generous with because they constantly show them "freestyling" when all the meetings are completely arranged. Did Mike use to do this? Probably, but everything on the show is scheduled, and they know exactly which items they will be picking beforehand, etc. If you're ever in any doubt of this, ask yourselves how they get the camera angles they do.
The storage auction shows are even more problematic, IMO, because everything is a set-up for the show, and the falsifying of auctions does have legal ramifications if someone wanted to press charges.
The reason to watch these shows if to see random items of interest, such as the cars, old gas pumps, bikes, soda machines, memorabilia, guns, etc. The bantering and - heaven forbid - an episode "storyline" (will Chumlee clock in on time after he promised to do so?!) is of far less interest.
"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932