Noiseless Chatter Spotlight: “The Yup Stops Here,” Storage Wars Season 3, Episode 14 (2012)

The Yup Stops Here, Storage Wars

The heat doesn’t get to me, but I know it takes a toll on the other buyers.
I’m going to use it to my advantage.

There’s probably no more tiresome criticism of reality television than the parroted claim that “it isn’t real.” It’s a meaningless comment that misses the point entirely. The Simpsons aren’t real either, nor were the group of friends who hung around Central Perk, nor were those wisecracking doctors in the Korean War. Ultimately, none of that matters. The aim of any television show — of any kind, in any genre, from any time period — is singular: to entertain enough people that it remains profitable. You’ll fool only yourself if you try to think otherwise.

Of course the difference between reality shows and my other examples above is that reality shows are populated with people rather than characters. Right? In Storage Wars professional pest Dave Hester is a man who really exists, of the same name, who really does buy storage lockers for a living. He’s not played by Dan Castellaneta or Matthew Perry or Alan Alda. He’s a real person you can find actually doing this in real life.

Here’s the big secret, though: that doesn’t matter.

Dave Hester — or any “character” from any reality show of your choice — may well exist. But that does not separate him as solidly from any openly fictional creation as one might think. In both cases, whether you’re a yellow-skinned cartoon dad or flesh-and-blood human being who is filmed as you go about your business, you fill the same role: you’re a character in a TV show that wants to keep viewers entertained.

Which is why the argument that reality shows “aren’t real” is meaningless. They don’t want to be real, no matter what they may say. They want to be profitable. They want to be watched. “Reality” is low on the list of things to strive for when assembling any given episode. Maybe you feel the Duck Dynasty guys play it up to the camera, while Intervention features real people with real problems. You’re allowed to feel both of those things, but ultimately those are just two different paths that two different shows have chosen to follow in order to achieve the same thing: profitability.

The Yup Stops Here, Storage WarsPerhaps you’d fault a “reality show” for using scripted segments and set pieces, but ultimately they’re doing it for you. After all, if they didn’t have their dramatic moments, quick zingers and narrative flow, would you still be watching?

It’s the narrative flow that I’m really going to dig into here, because that’s why “reality programming” can never be real. And that’s okay.

Think about your own life. Think about what you’ve accomplished, what you’ve failed to accomplish, the relationships you’ve had, the jobs you’ve held, and the people whose lives you’ve affected. There might be a good story in there, somewhere.

Now think about all of the meals you’ve eaten, the days you’ve spent sick in bed, the time you’ve lost in traffic jams, the numberless uneventful trips to the supermarket, and all the weekend afternoons you spent scrubbing the bathroom floor.

What I’m getting at is this: your life, anyone’s life, real life, is a combination of components from these two categories. You have the important stuff on one side, and the unavoidable but ultimately meaningless stuff on the other. And — fun fact — the meaningless stuff will always and must always outweigh the important stuff, in a quantitative sense.

This prevents real life from ever making a good story. There isn’t narrative flow. You’re always stuck with the boring parts; there’s no skipping them. Bad things happen to good people and they just happen. There isn’t a reason for most of the things you’ll experience…no mustache twirling villain lobbing obstacles in your way, no ultimate goal that you’ll need to achieve. Reality isn’t a story; it really is just a bunch of stuff that happens.

Which is why it’s okay that reality shows “aren’t real.” Of course they’re not. If they were, we’d see people sit around awkwardly in real time for 22 minutes trying to make stilted conversation. Reality shows shouldn’t do that. That’s not fun, that’s not watchable, and that’s certainly not profitable. Nobody wins, and if you really wanted to see “reality” when turning on the television you should probably have turned your head to look out the window instead.

The Yup Stops Here, Storage WarsNo, in order for reality to become a story, it needs to be edited. Finessed into a more cohesive statement. Trimmed of its dull parts and with its stronger moments emphasized. Think about your life again, but this time don’t think about all the mundane aspects. Concentrate, maybe, on an important relationship you’ve had, or a time you stood up for something that was right, or a seemingly insurmountable difficulty that you overcame. Only focus on the moments that contributed to this eventual triumph, and — this is important — stop thinking of anything at all that might have happened after your moment of success. Through the magic of editing, now you’ve got a story.

I like Storage Wars. I think it’s a good show, and if you asked me why I’d probably say something about the characters, or about the interesting items that they find. Ultimately, though, I’m fully aware of the fact that every episode is “assembled,” and on some level what I’m really responding to is the reliability of the structure. This isn’t found footage presented in the raw; this is a formula decided upon by producers and editors so that every episode, even in a show about people who buy storage lockers and hope for the best, follows a clear narrative.

First we see all of the main characters arrive at the location for the day, then they exchange pleasantries. Then we watch some bidding. Once everyone who’s going to get a locker has one, we get to watch them rummage around looking for a rare or expensive item to show off. Later on the group splinters off to have their finds appraised, and we close with a scorecard showing how much money each bidder made.

It’s simple, but it can afford to be simple. We need only the barest sketch of a narrative upon which to hang our attention, but we do need one. I don’t think the show would be impenetrable if, for instance, we cut back and forth between different auctions on different days, or followed one bidder all the way through the process before starting over with another, but I do think it would look messy and be needlessly confusing. The format provides structure, and it also provides a kind of security…both for us, as viewers, and for those who appear in the show. Everybody knows where they are.

Storage Wars until recently featured four main bidding groups: Barry Weiss, Darrell Sheets and his son Brandon, Jarrod Schulz and his wife Brandi, and Dave Hester who is no longer on the show. Sometimes we’d get appearances from other bidders as well, but that was the main cast that you could expect to see in any given episode.

The Yup Stops Here, Storage WarsWhat’s interesting about “The Yup Stops Here,” though, is that it feels just different enough not to be mistaken for any given episode. It features the same bidders listed above, and it’s presented in the same format outlined above as well. But when assembling this particular narrative, the editors took an interesting approach.

We typically get captions telling us where the episode takes place, or subtitling whispered dialogue, but this time around we get something more: we get a time stamp. More importantly, we also get a temperature reading.

As an editor of a show like this, you are massively beholden to the footage you have.* It’s nice to think that an episode can be magically whipped up depending upon editorial whims on any given day, but if you don’t have romantic footage you can’t create a love story, and if you don’t have footage of two people fighting you can’t make such a conflict the centerpiece of your episode. When you do have small moments like that you can of course emphasize them and mislead your viewers into believing them to be more significant events than they actually were, but you need something to work with first. It’s editing, not alchemy.

In this episode, the editors seem to have taken their cue from a comment made by Dave Hester on his way to the auction. He talks about how hot it’s going to be today, and how he’s going to use the heat to irritate his fellow bidders. This way, he says, they will become flustered, make silly mistakes, and overpay.

The Yup Stops Here, Storage WarsIt’s a threat, and the editors are able to see from the footage that follows that he does see it through, so — just like that — “The Yup Stops Here” has its framing device: the heat.

What’s more, there are 25 lockers up for bid today. We don’t know if this is an exceptionally high number, but we do know that the episode at least pretends that it is, drawing attention to how long the bidders have been standing around, how much hotter it’s gotten as the day progressed, and including quick snippets of auctions ending in order to emphasize the tedium of the day.

Typically we don’t see anything like this. One very obvious editing choice for the show is that we only see the auctions that result in a win for Dave, Barry, Jarrod or Darrell; if it’s won by any of the nameless bidders in the crowd around them, it simply gets cut.

At least, it usually does. By including other wins — even in the form of quick cuts — “The Yup Stops Here” is giving us a more realistic look at what a day of bidding on units must be like. There’s a lot of standing around in the sun, growing irritable and uncomfortable as the day gets hotter, watching other people walk off with the items you wanted. The curtain is pulled back, just enough, and it’s pulled back for a reason: Dave’s threat. After all, it wouldn’t mean much if the day was over in 22 minutes. What we need to see is an entire, grueling afternoon, so we know what Dave’s talking about when he says he’s going to take advantage.

The episode is no longer than any other, but this small tweak to the format makes it play out like Storage Wars: The Movie. As fans of any show know, a change in format makes you pay attention that much more; it keeps you on edge, and you remain fixed to the action because…well, if they bothered to change the format, they must have done so for a reason. So whether it’s Archie locked in the basement, Walt and Jesse chasing a fly or a demon that makes all the characters communicate in song, we watch more closely, because we know the show’s getting at something.

Here, the show is getting at the consequences of Dave’s threat. Never before have the actual items found or the money earned felt less important…what we have here is admitted psychological torture administered by the show’s closest thing to a villain.

Dave Hester is an interesting case. He left Storage Wars after season three, alleging various strange things about the show. His main complaint was that producers stuffed lockers with the items we see on television; it wasn’t really found by the bidders as we see at home. He complained that since it’s illegal to fix game shows, the producers of Storage Wars were breaking the law.

The Yup Stops Here, Storage WarsThis is a claim worth debunking in several ways. For starters, planting literally millions of dollars of priceless antiques in storage units defeats the entire purpose of reality programming; it’s a genre that exists so that lots of episodes can be made quickly and cheaply. Secondly, it’s interesting that Dave incorrectly identifies Storage Wars as a game show, because the conventions of that genre are entirely different from the one in which he actually appears, and it’s possible that because he saw himself as a game show champion, he never realized that he was actually a reality show villain.

In this episode he pushes back against his fellow bidders aggressively. When Barry — an older gentleman who definitely knows how to work the cameras, the crowd and the audience at home — shows interest in a locker, Dave keeps bidding higher and higher just so Barry will have to pay more. He makes no secret of this, and eventually stops bidding on the sarcastic pretext that he didn’t realize Barry wanted it; he’d never stand in his good friend’s way.

It’s just the first missile he fires in the heat, and it’s his only successful one. As if in response to Dave’s claim that the show is “fixed,” this episode seems dead set on following everything he does to his fellow bidders in order to throw them off their game…up to and including a verbal confrontation with Darrell’s son Brandon.**

What happens on screen is every bit as uncomfortable as any high school scuffle you might have witnessed in real life…with the exception of the fact that Dave Hester, who appears to be in his late 40s, is sparring with a much fitter man in his early 20s. While Dave wants to appear in control and intimidating, he actually comes off as rather pathetic, and the discomfort in the crowd around him is palpable. At one point he mentions the fact that Darrell is standing between them is the only reason he’s not in an actual fistfight, which gives Darrell the funniest moment in the episode as he casually strolls away and observes, “Brandon’ll kill him.”

But no punches are thrown. The cameras are there. Far from inventing drama, the cameras here absolutely quell it, as both parties — as upset and heat-crazed as they are — know better than to assault another human being while being filmed for television. And as Brandon walks away — taking with him the title of Bigger Man — there’s a little bit of inevitable disappointment that Dave didn’t get punched. After all, he’s the bad guy. But that’s okay…we still have half the episode left…and narrative convention tells us he’s primed for a fall.

The Yup Stops Here, Storage WarsThe heat goes on, the lockers go by, and the bidders are tired and frustrated. Barry finds himself in the same situation that Dave was in before: he knows Dave wants a unit, and he intends to make him pay more for it, just to get even. He pulls this off successfully, and is clearly happy about it, but Dave won’t admit defeat. He takes Barry over to the locker and tells him that it was Barry’s loss…there’s a 125 year old couch in the unit and it’s going to make Dave a fortune.

Barry’s response is something I’ll always be able to point to as evidence that the show — at least in its bidding portions — is real. He makes Dave a hasty bet of $5,000 that he’s wrong.

This isn’t a Mitt Romney style moment of misjudgment…this is an exasperated man who is tired of being pushed around in the heat by someone who cannot accept defeat. He doesn’t bet Dave $5,000 to be funny, to be cute, or to look cool on camera. He bets Dave $5,000 because Dave is wrong, Barry knows he’s wrong, and he’s had enough that he’s going to go out of his way to make him look like an ass.

Barry’s the anti-Dave in practically every way. He’s playful, with a natural charm and a genuine quick wit. He’s friendly, and though he does get caught up in the same bidding-up game that everyone does on this show, he never initiates it. He admits defeat regularly, and seems to just want to have a good time. We see this silver-haired guy with the silly skeleton gloves and the restless desire to make people laugh, and we like him.

Dave is aggressive. He pushes people, and relishes the fact that the cameras don’t let them push back. He’s a bully, and doesn’t really seem to have much fun. Whenever the show employs an obviously-scripted talking head featuring one of the bidders making a bad pun about something they found in the locker, Dave is noticeably absent. He doesn’t record lines like that. There’s a certain honor in that decision, but there’s a much larger stubbornness, and it’s not attractive in a character.

The Yup Stops Here, Storage WarsThe $5,000 bet turns Dave’s threat right around on him. Yes, Dave did indeed needle his opponents in the sweltering heat until they cracked…but when they cracked, they took it out on him. They didn’t make silly mistakes; instead they came at him with knives out. He physically threatens a boy half his age, doesn’t think enough to walk away from the fight, tricks his fellow bidders into paying more than they can afford on lockers he knows are full of junk, and needles the nicest guy on the show into making him a $5,000 bet just to shut him up.

Barry ultimately wins the bet as an appraiser confirms that the couch is nowhere near that old, and when he does Dave storms off, leaving Barry and the appraiser behind, saying with his back to the camera that they can keep the couch. And when this happens, especially as it’s followed by the episode’s score card touting Barry as the winner and Dave $5,000 in the hole, it really does feel like the triumph of good over evil.

But that’s because it’s a TV show. And maybe this stuff actually happened, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that somewhere in an editing booth, people took real words and real moments and real confrontations, and turned them into an engaging piece of television.

Does “The Yup Stops Here” accurately represent what happened that day? I don’t care. The events are being sculpted in a way that takes what was probably just a miserable day bidding on storage lockers, and turns it into a sharp and insightful character piece, with quiet meditations on manhood, hubris and friendship thrown in for good measure.

They took actual footage of real people going about their day, and turned it into an engrossing, effective work of art. Is that misleading? That’s not the word I’d use. I’d call it impressive.

Reality TV isn’t real. It’s not supposed to be. It’s just supposed to be entertaining, and that’s enough for me.

* As if to illustrate this point, during the Dave and Brandon squabble we get a couple of seconds of people’s ankles, presumably because the camera simply wasn’t there to catch what was being said.

** The episode’s title is a telling stab at him as well, as it effectively uses Dave’s “Yup!” catchphrase against him…and, sure enough, after this season the yup did stop.

9 thoughts on “Noiseless Chatter Spotlight: “The Yup Stops Here,” Storage Wars Season 3, Episode 14 (2012)”

  1. I would respectfully disagree. The “editing” to make the show fit the 22 minutes, and dramatic structure (usually even 3 acts) isn’t what makes the show “not real”. Its when situations ARE fabricated and lines prewritten that makes a “reality series” into an amateur-actor version of The Office. I don’t want to see bad/non actors doing things KINDA like the things they do in real life, but are ultimately controlled by the director and the producers. If I wanted that then I’ll watch our yellow-skinned animated family, the six friends at central perk or the happy-go-lucky folk at Dunder-Mifflen (apologies for any incorrect spelling) because the acting is better and the writing is better. When I watch a reality show I don’t MIND having it edited, as long as the editing is to make the story that IS being shown make sense, and pass within the allotted timeframe. So if, during the course of filming a reality show about “bidders” or “pickers” or “pawn shop owners”, one of them has to go down to the DMV and register his car, of course that can get cut out. If he gets pulled over by the police without his renewed license, however, then it would be dramatic and should be kept in. If he is running out of fuel on his way back from a “war” (be it bidding, picking or storage) I would expect there to be at least a passing mention of him GETTING fuel when the chance arises, using the situation as a means of building tension. I disagree, however, with the production crew siphoning fuel OUT of his fuel tank in order to create just such a situation. Editing life down to make it interesting is one thing, but creating drama and “plots” in a series breaks the “reality” part of the show’s definition. Non-actors/amateurs being forced into stories without their knowledge is getting back into the Candid Camera style “gotcha” moments that were past their use-by date in the 90’s. If they DO know they’re being put into an unnatural situation, make it obvious to the viewers, because then you’re entering the territory of shows like Survivor, and then that’d make Dave right. That’d WOULD make it a game show.

    1. “The “editing” to make the show fit the 22 minutes, and dramatic structure (usually even 3 acts) isn’t what makes the show “not real”. Its when situations ARE fabricated and lines prewritten that makes a “reality series” into an amateur-actor version of The Office.”

      Oh certainly. But that’s just one way that certain shows “aren’t real.” My point was that no show could possibly be real, because they’re all fed through the editing room, which extends a certain artfulness to the final product that real life couldn’t possibly have. Agreed that scripting things outright also makes it “not real,” but I think that’s a pretty fair given. My point was that even the best-intentioned of the shows can’t be real.

      “I don’t want to see bad/non actors doing things KINDA like the things they do in real life, but are ultimately controlled by the director and the producers. If I wanted that then I’ll watch our yellow-skinned animated family, the six friends at central perk or the happy-go-lucky folk at Dunder-Mifflen (apologies for any incorrect spelling) because the acting is better and the writing is better.”

      Obviously this is down to personal preference, but I will say that the Storage Wars crew has been a lot more entertaining to watch lately than those other two examples that are still around. :) Ultimately it just comes down to what entertains you more, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.

      “I disagree, however, with the production crew siphoning fuel OUT of his fuel tank in order to create just such a situation.”

      I personally do, too, but ultimately I can’t pass judgement on someone who does enjoy those kinds of shows. If that’s what they like, then that’s okay. It was never television’s job to be “real,” and to address one of your other perfectly valid points, I think the term “reality show” is a misnomer anyway. There should be another term for it, because all it does it direct the discussion the wrong way. What Dave alleges is that Storage Wars does “siphon fuel out,” to use your expression. I personally don’t think that’s correct (I’d like to think I can spot fabricated drama pretty easily, but examples like the aborted fistfight and the $5k bet from this episode, I’d say, are absolutely genuine…these aren’t actors, and they’re clearly flushed and frustrated). Regardless, though, we can’t know. I think Dave has other motives for calling the show a fraud, and while it’s not worth getting into them right now (unless you really want me to!) I think it is worth noting that nobody else, not the other bidders, not the auctioneers, not the anonymous folks that turn up in the background of any given episode, not anyone on the entire production crew, not the people who appraise the products…nobody else involved in any aspect of the show has chimed in to support his claims. I think that’s telling.

      “If they DO know they’re being put into an unnatural situation, make it obvious to the viewers, because then you’re entering the territory of shows like Survivor, and then that’d make Dave right. That’d WOULD make it a game show.”

      Have to disagree with you there…there’s no “prize” at stake, and I’m pretty sure the legal definition of a game show requires it to be a “game of skill,” or some such. Someone else can probably address that point betterthan I can, but I don’t think folks reading off a script in a reality show but not disclosing that fact makes it a game show!

      Whew. Great comment. I…didn’t expect this post of all things to engender such a good discussion.

      1. Your articles always stir up a response from me, and an opinion. It’s whether or not I have the wherewithal to respond or not that will enable me to comment proactively. XD Also, I LOVE NINJA WARRIOR. So glad I stumbled over it a couple of years ago.

        I guess what I feel, about “reality” shows, is that the editing isn’t what makes it “not real” but the level to which its divorced from reality. The “observational” shows, like The Osbournes and Jersey Shore etc are real only so long as the events/people are not constructed for the show. Obviously we know the more low-rent ones ARE constructed, and I would think that this type of show would only appeal to someone who is unaware that the “reality” is almost as scripted as an episode of C.S.I, No show can EVER show us “reality”, and that’s is of course a fair summation, but at the same time it doesn’t NEED to show each and every minute of each and every day to depict the reality of someone’s life. Important events that have an impact on the person’s life, in Jersey Shore style shows, should be shown and most often would be, but cleaning the bathroom floor has no impact on my life beyond using up the time in which it takes to occur. If it does have an impact, a statement of the fact that it occurred is all that’s need to make it known, and I don’t need to see it. If the show was edited to make me look grumpy, but I was in fact in pain from having to clean my house that day, then reality is obviously shattered, but if, within the show, I’m grumpy because of the housework I’ve been doing all day, then reality is relatively preserved. The boundaries of a show, too, will dictate what is and what isn’t necessary to maintain reality. A reality show about a workplace doesn’t need to show outside of the workplace. A reality show along the lines of “going in to fix up your restaurant” (which I too could watch for hours) doesn’t need to show the owner’s home life unless it is important for the events of the show. It can help to characterise them, and that helps us understand why they do what they do, but we don’t need to see them cleaning their bathroom or picking up their kids from school.

        We each divide our lives into so many compartments – work, social, family, online, alone, probably many others – that merely depicting the one/s that are applicable to the scope of the reality show is all that I feel is necessary to remain real.

        The other thing I’d like to harp on about is also the “game show” aspect of the show. I have never seen storage wars, but you made stated that the totals the two men made/lost were compared to each other. These were their scores. They competed to GET these scores by bidding against each other. They also tried to force the other to pay more for certain things than they would like to. This would be an element of skill. All in all they are competing, using skill, in order to get a better score than the other person. The prize on offer is the knowledge that they have beaten their opponent. To me, this is well into the genre of game show. If the set-up is initially “set up” by the producers, acting independently to create a more interesting “playing field” for the contestants, then we reach the stage of game show similar to Wipeout. They may not be running around and getting wet, but they’re jumping through hoops for the viewers’ entertainment.

        I haven’t seen Storage Wars so I obviously can’t really complete my thoughts on it, but it sounds to me to be similar to Bargain Hunt, from the UK, where two teams of two amateurs go out, with an “expert” to an antiques fair with 250 british pounds and buy three items. trying to nab a bargain. They then have to sell the items at auction and hopefully make a profit. They can keep any profit they make and the team that makes the most, wins. To me, this is a game show despite there being no “prize” (both teams can keep whatever profit they make, regardless of being victorious or not, and if both make a loss the team with the least loss still “wins”) because there is a set objective and people competing. I get that these people in Storage Wars are “professionals” at what they’re doing, and there’s no “teams” or time limit or a wad of cash given out at the start. But if they compare the totals of the participants to evaluate a “winner”, then it’s about as close as it’ll get. Maybe it’s not the “legal definition” of a game show, but it’s not Jersey Shore either.

        Those dashes do help, for sure.

        1. Man I loved Bargain Hunt. When I had BBC America it would air right before work, so I’d eat breakfast and watch that mindlessly addictive show. I loved it.

          I think the difference with Storage Wars is that the contestants don’t start on equal footing. In Bargain Hunt they gave you a flat sum to work with, but here you come with just the money in your pockets, however much or little that is. Which is probably why it wouldn’t fall under the legal definition of a game show. Someone might have tens of thousands to spend, and someone might have $100.

          You’re right about the “scoring” that the show uses, but I think it’s more of an implied score than anything else. The show does indeed show you who made how much money, and that in turn does suggest a winner and a loser (at least) but unlike Bargain Hunt, these items don’t actually sell by the time the show is edited.

          In Bargain Hunt, if you bought something for $10 and sold it for $100 you literally made $90. That’s measurable. In Storage Wars you may buy something for $10 and have it appraised for $100, but you didn’t make $90. At least not yet. All you know is that an expert told you you SHOULD be able to make that money…so I think that’s why it wouldn’t fall under the legal definition. No winner can really be declared…we just have to take an appraiser’s word for it. (To say nothing of the fact that the bidders often self-appraise the minor items…which muddies the waters as anyone can self-appraise a broken old table as being worth ten trillion dollars and thus be Reigning Grand Champion Emeritus.)

          So I think you’re right that the show does function as a game show, at least in a logistical sense…but Dave’s complaint that it’s rigged, even if it is true, wouldn’t really apply.

          Great comment. Wish I had more to add!

          1. Fair call. Hard to rig something that’s already got so many “outside factors” built into it by design. XD

  2. Interesting points by Raiko. I would also note that, aside from the intent of such shows (to be profitable, granted), there’s their effect on the viewing populace.

    And as such I distinguish between two types of reality shows: ones in which there’s an objective, and one that’s just “slice of life.” My only can’t-miss show is a reality show–“The Ultimate Fighter”–and here people are trying to improve their skills and win a contract. I don’t watch “American Idol” or its spawn, but there is a similar objective–to win a contract and launch a career. In short, these people are trying to ACHIEVE something. The people who become famous from these shows do so because they are excellent at what they do… i.e., they achieve fame the old-fashioned way.

    Then there’s the “let’s put a camera on a bunch of stupid people and watch what happens” shows like “The Real World,” “Jersey Shores,” and the like. In these shows, people become famous for being stupid, obnoxious, or behaving irrationally. They don’t become famous for being better than the rest of us, but for being worse. Then they get their own spin-off shows, and the saga continues.

    Of course there are in-between shows like “Storage Wars,” “Ice Road Truckers,” “American Pickers,” and whatnot (none of which I have ever seen). (And what the hell ever happened to History Channel showing shows about HISTORY?) Personally I kind of like “Dog the Bounty Hunter.” Who knows how much of Dog is real and how much is staged? Ultimately I cut Dog some slack because the premise of the show is something positive: to bring criminals to justice and, if possible, rehabilitate them.

    The point of all such shows is to turn a profit, but the effect they’ve had on our cultural aesthetic is something I can’t ignore. Hmm, and here I am, writing 20 paragraphs after convincing myself I didn’t have time to read the entire article! (Finals tomorrow.) I’LL BE BACK.

    1. First off, thanks for showing me how I can use dashes to override this site’s absolutely terrible approach to paragraph breaks.

      “their effect on the viewing populace.”

      This is a discussion all in itself I think! From my recent Family Guy post I think it’s clear that I do believe television (and film, and books, and video games, and everything) have a larger cultural responsibility as well. (I’m simplifying by saying that, because it really does deserve a discussion all to itself.) As such I do think you can single things out like Jersey Shore or Honey Boo-Boo and wag a finger at them for glorifying that which should not be glorified. But I think that’s a separate consideration from “not being real,” which I don’t feel is any kind of problem at all.

      “there is a similar objective–to win a contract and launch a career. In short, these people are trying to ACHIEVE something.”

      Haven’t seen the show you mentioned, but I do like Ninja Warrior when I can catch it. And I like your bifurcated definition of reality television…the ones I tend to like do tend to be “betterment” shows (like all those “let’s fix your crappy restaurant” shows on the Food Network, which I can watch for hours but couldn’t begin to tell you why) where’s there’s a specific aim for the folks who appear, and it’s not just watching some loafs goof around and make idiots out of themselves.

      ” (And what the hell ever happened to History Channel showing shows about HISTORY?)”

      Yeah, that’s something, too. However they do have a show called How the States Got Their Shapes, which is pretty great, and I’m sure there are other exceptions…though, sadly, they are exceptions. (Do check out How the States Got Their Shapes though. I think you’d enjoy that.) In the meantime I guess you have to settle for brief historical trivia embedded in Pawn Stars and American Pickers.

      “The point of all such shows is to turn a profit, but the effect they’ve had on our cultural aesthetic is something I can’t ignore.”

      Do I smell a guest post?

      1. I don’t know what the hell How the States Got Their Shapes is, but it sounds awesome. If I ever come across it (not sure who else but me would demand such a show in Canada) I’ll give it a watch.

  3. I’d like to go head to head with Dave Hester that pussy ass mf knocking a woman to the ground give me one minute with him and he will have a reason to go to the hospital infact he will even get to ride in a ambulance

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