Thursday, June 28, 2012

Viewer's Choice: Storage Wars

Welcome to a new regular feature here on the blog: Viewer's Choice! Where I give you, gentle reader, the power and you tell me what to watch. After all, you guys might know of some awesome shows that aren't on my radar, and I figured this was a good way to discover and try new shows that are outside my usual pervue.

Also, it saves me from having to think up new blog post topics every week. Hurray for laziness!

First up: Storage Wars. I arrived at this selection through simple democracy; I posted a query on Facebook asking for people to recommend a show for my first Viewer's Choice post, and Storage Wars was the clear winner. Apparently there is a large group of people out there who are addicted to this show (and they include my Mom). I had heard of it at some point, but had never really considered watching it. So it's perfect for my first Viewer's Choice post!

And I tried everyone, I really really tried. I watched about 6 episodes which were fairly easy to find since A&E basically runs the show over and over during the day (it's their number one series of all time). But I can't say that it won me over. Sure, some of it was interesting (more on that later), but for the most part I found it loud and I hate to say it, kinda boring.

I would have liked it a lot more if it actually had explosions.

Part of that has to do with the format. Generally, I don't find 30 minute reality shows particularly entertaining. I find that the shows reuse a lot of the clips (usually before and after the commercial breaks) and what we end up with is about 12 minutes of actual content, interspersed with talking heads reiterating exactly what I already watched.

Storage Wars at least has an interesting concept. From wiki:

When rent is not paid on a storage locker for three months in California, the contents are sold by an auctioneer as a single lot of items. The show follows professional buyers who purchase the contents based only on a five-minute inspection of what they can see from the door when it is opened. The goal is to turn a profit on the merchandise.
The "characters" consist of the buyers who engage in friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) rivalries with one another. Each has their own strategy, and each has their own...shall we say, unique, personality. Though for the most part, I found them grating, prone to self-aggrandizement, and LOUD (especially Dave Hester, whose bidding style of yelling "yuuup" during auctions had me literally wincing and muting the television). Of all the buyers, the ones I liked the most were Jarrod Schulz and Brandi Passante, a husband and wife team who seemed the most normal of anyone on the show. 

 Seriously, STFU.

Each episode follows the same format; the buyers gather at the appointed storage facility and get a peek at the inside of the units being auctioned off. An auction is held (usually just in the hallway), and the winners then unpack and appraise the contents while a counter on the screen keeps track of the amount paid for each unit and the estimated value of the objects inside. 

Then, we come to the part I like. If there is an item that the buyers aren't sure of the value, or even what it is, they take it to an expert who explains its history and gives an estimate of its worth. To me, this is the most interesting part of the show, since we get to actually hear stories about what's in the unit, listen to experts give real estimates, and imagine what kind of person would have once owned these objects. Of course, I can get the same type of enjoyment from watching Antiques Roadshow or even Pawn Stars, so I don't think Storage Wars holds much of a draw for me. I also kind of wish we knew more about the people who abandoned their units. Who are they? What circumstances forced them to stop paying the rent? And why in the holy hell do they own an ancient African tattoo set when everything else in the unit is junk?

Bottom line: I can certainly see the draw of Storage Wars; you get the thrill of an auction, the excitement that any box could hold a treasure, and details about unknown objects. But for me, that can't make up for the loud, grating personalities of the buyers and the lack of genuinely interesting moments.

Thanks for the recommendation, everyone! At least now I have had a chance to get a glimpse of the Storage Wars phenomenon. If you have any other Viewer's Choice suggestions, don't be afraid to pass them along. I can't promise to love the show, but I can promise to give it a fair shot. After all, some of my favorite programs were discovered based on recommendations, Battlestar Gallactica, Friday Night Lights, etc. etc.

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