The reality television series, American Pickers, first premiered on January 18th, 2010. It can be viewed on the History Channel. So far the series has 8 seasons and outside of the United States it is known simply as The Pickers. Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz carry the show. They are antique and collectible “pickers.” Together the duo search for items that they resell, use for personal interest, or give to specific clients. Another key player in the television show is a woman named Danielle Colby who takes charge of Mike’s office meanwhile Mike and Frank are on the road and doing their own business. Frank has a shop of his own where he sells the items he finds, called Frank Fritz Finds and Mike owns Antique Archeology. Colby helps the guys find some good places to look for antiques and other top picks, but sometimes they wing-it on their own. There have been a few occasions where they will revisit a location.
Throughout the series Frank and Mike explore many different places. They look through homes, sheds, barns, outbuildings, and anywhere else where items have accumulated. They talk to a variety of different people, including hoarders and other collectors. Both Mike and Frank have particular interests that they especially enjoy collecting. Mike, who has been collecting since before he was five years old, tends to have an eye for penny-farthings, antique bikes, and Volkswagens—particularly air-cooled ones. Frank, on the other hand, likes Hondas, oil cans, and old toys. Many rare and unusual findings have appeared on American Pickers.
IMDb gives the series 6.9/10 stars, whereas TV.com gives it 8.3/10. A lot of people enjoy the television show, calling it funny and entertaining. It has been called educational and it resembles other shows out there like Pawn Stars or even Antique’s Roadshow. According to one review the “joy of discovery” is one of the biggest reasons the series is fun and entertaining to watch. There are numerous people who vigorously attack the show and others who defend it. There are a couple of primary thoughts among critics. Some say that Mike and Frank are jerks who rip people off and take advantage of others who don’t know the value of their possessions. In the show’s defense fans say that they are just acting like any middle-man would, and that they are professional. One review says that by the same logic Apple might be just as seedy, when considering the cost of production for their products verses how much they are sold for. The other primary way that the series is attacked is because, although it is on the History Channel, it has very little real history. In this regard one review claims that it is a good show regardless of the channel it is on and that History has stopped featuring shows that have to do with History. Is that the fault of American Pickers?
Another large point of interest when it comes to the series is whether or not it is real or fake. It has been called a “scripted flop” and others say that it is alright for a staged TV show. There has been debate about this fact and some attention paid as to whether or not the series is in fact a true reality television show.
There is, evidently, some scripting in every reality television series—or at least the majority of them. This scripting may be done to a varying degree depending upon how “real” the show is striving to be. Even the most realistic reality TV shows may have an individual repeat a line they had said for the camera. Footage and time-line may also be altered to make the series of events more coherent and easier to understand.
When it comes to how much is scripted on American Pickers it seems to come down to a matter of personal opinion, as there are articles vowing that the series is fake and others who swear it is the real deal. Some people are even of the mindset that it is 100% staged. It has been stated that the two show leads, Mike and Frank, were friends prior to the show, but not actually business partners. Prior to this Mike is said to have been a safety and fire inspector. Frank has a slightly more convincing story for having been on the show, however, as it has been his hobby to collect antiques long before America’s Pickers.
Danielle is said to be an outright actor who does not in fact do any of the real work of an office manager. She appears as quirky and interesting. Evidently Danielle worked previously as a burlesque performer and female roller-derby star. Her only connection to the show was her friendship with Mike, otherwise, it has been said that she had no knowledge of antiques or any other qualifications. It would seem that the biggest reason she is even on the show, at least according so some people, is her sex- appeal.
Evidently all of the film shots of Mike and Frank traveling and driving together in their vehicle are fakes. The dialog between them while in the car together happens on a set and the pictures of the vehicle traveling are said to be taken from different locations. Some also state that the picks themselves have been worked out long before the scenes of haggling and negotiation are shot.
While defenders of the series say that some of it might indeed be scripted, such as conversations, they also say that it is still a reality televisions series. In response to the allegation that Danielle is an actor some believe that she actually does work in the shop as a manager. It is also true that Mike Wolfe sells the antiques he buys—at least this is admitted by a viewer who claims that the series is completely staged. It has also been said, by America’s Pickers Believers, that the picks themselves couldn’t be staged because it is evident in many of the episodes that the “piles of junk” have been sitting around for years. Whether or not you think it is a reality television show depends on where you draw the line between reality television and TV that is fully staged, scripted, and overall fictionalized. When you sign up for one of the Dishnet Satellite Internet Plans you can stream all the old and new episodes of American Pickers.