I've always thought "The Junk Biz" would be a great name for a reality TV show about the "Junk Business", in which I am so indoctrinated. Yes, I have mentioned before, that I had the same idea Mike Wolfe did, though years before...and it is unlikely that I was the only picker who had the idea, either! The idea likely predates my birth, Mike's birth, and pretty much anyone who is alive now.
Anyway, I've blogged a bit about the "Junk Biz" related reality TV shows, some of the stars on those shows, ideas for shows, reactions, thoughts, complaints, etc in the past, ever since American Pickers hit the screens of the general public.
No, AP was not the "first" "Junk Biz" related reality TV show, not by a long shot. Antiques Roadshow pops up in most people's grey matter, and there are several other less iconic ones, as well as others that are/were regional in nature.
AP, however, got the general public interested. Good timing on the behalf of Mike Wolfe, right place and right time, as well as hard work, the right connections made, etc. I doubt it was easy for him to get it going, unlike some of the shows that came after they blazed a trail, which others have tried to follow. Some have had success, others lesser so, and yet others met a brick wall and faded quietly into oblivion from whence they came. Some deservedly disappeared due to poor content, poor characters, poor execution, and others fell by the wayside due to poor promotion and behind the scenes issues.
As far as Junk Biz Reality TV goes, however, I personally feel we are at; or at least nearing a crossroads....and it is something production companies should take note of.
Striving for and building on a foundation that promoted longevity is something that production companies seem to be skipping when they put these shows together. I don't know if it is something they are doing on purpose, out of design, or they are simply not "getting it." No doubt AP will keep going for awhile, as it is "The Original", and "The Original" tends to create its own longevity, despite any flaws that may arise. Some of those flaws are even embraced by fans. But it is important to note that very same viewership will not necessarily forgive those flaws in any spin-offs!
The public is not stupid....
That especially is so of those who gravitate to, function well; even prosper in the "junk biz." If you can use your alchemy-esque skills to squeeze CASH from what many/much/most of the general public view as trash, well, you obviously have to have some intelligence, don't you?!?
Many of those in this business are not "University Educated"...but
Heck, storage locker hounds across the US, Canada, UK, and elsewhere have bought the contents of 1000s of storage lockers that have those very costly, well framed diploma's packed in boxes!
The recipient of those same diploma's lost their stuff because they can't even pay their storage locker rent. Guess that $150,000 education is not working out as well as they were lead to believe, is it?
So, over all, much of the viewing public quickly figures out that staged situations are the norm, rather than the exception. The exception should only be due to the requirements of TV, and all the legal issues. There are many exceptions due to the way media tends to work, so don't get me wrong!
For those of you unaware, when I refer to the legal issues I mean things like: Model Releases,Liability Waivers, contracts of various sorts, among a host of legal documents related to the making and the participation in any filmed production, not to mention the documents that are meant to zip people's lips until the production airs, etc, etc, etc.
Viewers who are observant, loyal, etc are quickly growing tired of set-up situations, hosts chosen for looks (and/or acting/improv ability, among other assets) rather than their genuine experience in whatever field of the "Junk Biz" being "portrayed", as well as a list of other issues that arise with these productions.
Lack of experience in those areas shows through. This is a point that has rankled many a junk biz vet's hackles, not surprisingly.
However, the shows have spawned more participants in the "junk biz"....and they have figured out on their own who is real and who is not, comparing notes using their own experiences. They quickly come to a conclusion that things depicted are not all that realistic.
They think to themselves:
"Who can make a living paying $75 for something, then sell it for $100? Oh, sure, I can...but not if I hold on to that item for more than an hour....and I sure can't pay to have it shipped across the country first...and then pay an auctioneer a commission after it is sold."
Certainly it does not take a genius to figure out the viability of that as a living.
"Reality" is a misnomer....but then again, the show "Survivor" does not depict what many people think of as truly "surviving" either.
The viewers of Junk Biz TV now include those who are not vets, but they are educated in the junk biz. They started not so long ago, maybe 5 years, 4 years, even 2 years ago.
However, from the comments, forum threads, "shop talk", junk biz grapevine gossip, and all the junk biz regulars' tired sigh (accented with rolling eyes) when hearing a show/character's "tag line" at a garage sale they are attending, I'd say we're at a crossroads.
It seems more and more Junk TV fans/viewers are ready to move on to more intelligent, less staged, fare.
So, where does this leave the "Junk Biz" as far as Reality TV?
I'll give you my thoughts...
***Insert/imagine suspense-inducing music here!***
In my next blog posting!