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Reality television isn’t really real

By Staff | Jul 11, 2016

So, if you are one of those people who think that reality TV shows are actually real, I suggest you stop reading this column right now. Maybe go flip on the television and catch an episode of Pawn Stars. Or Storage Wars. Or American Pickers.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve watched these shows and I have to admit, I enjoyed them.

To a point.

After watching a dozen or so episodes, it seems to me as though they are always the same. The same plot, the same thing happening over and over again. Pawn an item that maybe has value, maybe not. Buy a storage locker and hope something valuable is in it. Pick through someone’s junk and resell it as an antique.

‘Buy low, sell high,’ seems to be the common theme.

Eventually I grew a little tired of the shows and quit watching them.

But, I never believed they were actually real. Maybe it is the journalistic skepticism built into me over the years. Always check the facts, never believe it is true without a little background search.

Reality TV shows are scripted. There, I said it. I mean, there, I wrote it.

I’m not so sure I would go so far as to say they are “fake.” But, I for sure wouldn’t say they are “real.”

I mean, who would walk into the pawn shop and start talking to Rick Harrison without first saying, “what the heck are those TV cameras doing in my face?”

Who would answer their door to pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz without looking over their shoulders and saying “hey, am I on TV? Am I on American Pickers? Hi Mom!”

But they don’t. The people on the shows ignore the fact that there are TV cameras, microphones, prop people, make-up artists, script girls, producers and probably about a dozen engineers running around the place.

Now I don’t doubt that these people on the shows are real. But I do not believe they are meeting Mike and Frank for the first time when they answer the door.

And, to be truthful, I have always thought the whole thing is all set up before the show ever starts filming. The people have been interviewed and probably had to sign multi-page contracts and I wouldn’t doubt for a minute that they got paid for appearing on the show. Maybe even paid a lot.

And now I know it to be true.

I got a call last week from Cineflix casting associate Cat Raynor. Cineflix is the production company for American Pickers. Ms. Raynor was calling to tell me the American Pickers were going to be in Minnesota in August and they were looking for places to pick.

OK, before you get just too excited, she didn’t say they were coming to Blue Earth or even Faribault County. She said ‘Minnesota.’

They are looking for interesting “characters,” who have interesting collections that the American Pickers could come spend a day ‘picking’ through.

If you or someone you know has an interesting large antique collection (of junk I mean, ‘rusty gold’) then you need to contact the producers at americanpickers@cineflix.com or call 855-old-rust. You are going to need to send them your name, phone number, location and description of your collection complete with photos.

OK, I have to admit that it would be pretty cool if Mike and Frank show up in Faribault County to look through somebody’s pile of junk and it makes the cut for the show. Maybe I should suggest they go to the Golden Bubble?

I mean, what the heck? If Preparation H can come to Kiester to film a television commercial, why can’t the American Pickers come here and film their show? It could happen.

Stay tuned.