Imagine, if you will, that “Antiques Roadshow” and “Hoarders” had a baby – now let’s imagine the parents, disgusted by the abomination they had created, sold that baby to “The Borrowers” and the little bastard grew up receiving all it’s formal education from the Artful Dodger. Well, that kid’s all grown up now and he’s driving around in a shady van looking to swindle your grandparents out of their collectibles!
There have been no less than two dozen series based on people who buy and sell junk for “the big bucks”, and as a result “Picker” shows now come in a variety of flavours (American, Canadian, Australian, Sisterly….) but no matter the accent, the formula is always the same:
Two strange dudes (or in the case of “Picker Sisters”- ladies) travel around in a creepy white van stopping to rummage through run-down barns, antique stores, garbage heaps and the like, in search of rare valuables. Then, using their artful dodger skillz, they haggle with their “unsuspecting” (give me a break) and often reluctant “marks” on a price, then resell their junk for a healthy profit (100% minimum).
The packrat victims rarely get more than a fraction of whatever their item is actually worth and almost immediately you start see the pickers for what they really are – the television equivalent of that kid at my primary school who ruined it for everyone by pigeoning a kid in a younger grade into swapping their Game Boy for a handful tazos. (as a bitter side note tazos were completely banned from our school FOREVER after this event. Thanks a lot jerk).
These shows are made by the HISTORY channel yet contain only about a thimble full of actual historical information, the real emphasis is on the collectibility or dollar value of the items. Sure they mention the occasion “thing” from history every now and then and the occasional bullet point is flashed on the screen to place the item in some kind of context, but really what it all comes down to is “How much you want for something like that?”
Now, I like rummaging through junk and haggling for a bargain as much as the next girl, there’s a certain thrill about the idea of finding some hidden gem in a pile of trash that I could resell for maximum profit that makes me kind of understand why people would want to watch, but the same type of items are featured on virtually EVERY episode of each of the various shows; motorcycles, bicycles, gas pumps, road signs, old advertising, neon signs etc. So if you were watching hoping to find out what some of the junk you’ve got laying around is worth (which I’m sure is 99% of the reason anybody would watch these shows regularly) it’s really not worth it.
A quick guide to the main offenders:
Exhibit A : American Pickers
These guys are the absolute worst. Over excitable Mike with his grumpy troll sidekick Frank are pickers from Iowa who also conveniently have an antiques store which is mentioned & featured continuously through the show. Advertorialtainment at it it’s best! These guys were the original pickers – the ones we have to
thank blame for all the rest. Along with their long suffering office bitch Dani D, Mike and Frank are the embodiment of the shows motto “Over promise and under deliver” … wait…. no… I think that might be backwards. My bad.
Exhibit B: Canadian Pickers aka Cash Cowboys
If for some reason I had to pick a favourite duo of pickers – these guys would be it. Even though they are just as shifty in the wheeling and dealing rip-offery of items like their annoying American counterparts and their show follows an identical format, their all over polite and hilarious Canadian-ness makes them so much more enjoyable to watch.
Exhibit C: Aussie Pickers
To be honest, I had never seen Australian pickers before I compulsorily viewed it for this post but as I expected it did not deviate from the format of it’s North American counterparts in the slightest and (much like Australian Top Gear) totally falls flat as an Australian recreation of a successful international show. Ginger bearded Adam and beret wearing Lucas seem painfully unaware of the sea of good items they frequently walk past, and their lack of knowledge combined with the shows scripted and predictable format made it excruciating at best.
YE BE WARNED
If you’ve seen one pick, you’ve seen ’em all. Save yourself the trouble and go and have a rummage at the op shop instead.