There’s a saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Welcome to American Pickers, a series on The History Channel where two men go on the hunt each week for items of historical, collectible, and pop cultural significance around the United States. These two men travel the backroads of America in search of old stuff that many would consider junk, but they see it as a means to a profit.
“We’ll buy anything we think we can make a buck on,” says Frank Fritz in the opening sequence of the series. And boy do these guys do just that. Each episode find Frank and Antique Archaeologist Mike Wolfe scouring homes, barns, and former businesses for hidden treasures they can buy cheap and sell for more money.
Here’s my initial take on the show: two men, Mike and Frank, travel the country taking advantage of old people by buying their valuables for cheaper than they’re actually worth. And the vast majority of the folks these two encounter are men and women in their late 70s and older. While this does make sense since this generation would possess these items, I actually felt uncomfortable at several points while watching the show.
Seeing these two men happily take priceless items from kindly elderly men and women for a fraction of the true value and be giddy about it made me think of those scam artists who prey on the elderly. Granted, while the items they find are really cool and have historical significance, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the old people who were seemingly “conned” by these two men.
What these guys find, especially if you like Antiques Roadshow, is pretty cool. A lot of the items they come across are rare, vintage, and truly special pieces. Also throughout each episode we are presented with factoids about the history of different items, which adds to the history aspect of the series (it is on The History Channel after all).
If this were a show where these men travelled around searching for these items and only talked about them with the owners, (it could called American Treasures) I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I did take issue when Mike and Frank would offer a man in his nineties $100 for an item that they knew was worth a great deal more.
Am I against bargaining? Nope. If they were doing this to people their own age I would feel a bit differently. But the way it comes across is these two guys are swindling the elderly. Not a good impression to leave on the audience.
There are twelve hour-long eps in season one, which include: Big Bear; Super Scooter; White Castle on the Farm; Invisible Pump; Back Breaker; Mole Man; Frank’s Gamble; 5 Acres of Junk; Bigfoot in Alabama; Know When to Fold; Fill’er Up; and Leland’s Café. Again, a lot of really cool stuff is found and talked about, but how it’s negotiated and sold to Mike and Frank just rubbed me the wrong way.
Now, it’s up to you. Check out the show and let me know if I’m being too uptight about this or if I’m right in how these guys are portrayed in this show. Am I being to tough on Mike and Frank? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on The History Channel’s American Pickers: The Complete Season One.
American Pickers: The Complete Season One is now available on DVD!