A few weeks ago, I was scanning through the shows stored on my DVR, and a pattern emerged. Amidst episodes of Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, and Swamp People, there were all these, well, junk digging reality shows.
Those junk digging shows say a lot about who I am. When I’m not writing, one of my favorite pastimes is digging through old, worn out junk. I call it antiquing, and, sometimes, it is.
The truth is, though, I’ll hit just about any trade days, flea market, or estate sale I happen upon. On lucky days, I find treasure, but, even on the unlucky days, I still have a blast.
My passion for sifting through junk has now extended to reality TV. Reality TV as a genre has expanded since the days of Jerry Springer. There are shows about food, ghosts, cars, do-it-yourself, sex…and junk diggers.
The junk digging shows serve many purposes in my life. They’re exciting to watch. Hunting treasure in a flea market–or in a pawn shop or storage building–is all about the chase. The shows are informative. I learn the value of all sorts of items. I also find fodder for my writing.
Let’s take a tour of my favorite shows from the junk digging genre of reality TV.
My favorite junk digger show is Pawn Stars on the History Channel. Pawn Stars isn’t really about junk digging, per se, but it’s tangentially related because it’s informative to junk diggers.
Things I think are worth a fortune go for a price I could afford. Items that look like a piece of junk are expensive. Pawn Stars has made me more aware of bargains and rip-offs in antique stores and at estate sales. It doesn’t help me so much at the flea markets and trade days…unless you count the haggling lessons.
This ties into my writing because every one of these pieces of junk has a story. Rick Harrison, the owner of the pawn shop, knows that story and is more than happy to tell it–no matter how much his customers glaze over. I am doing research for my writing as I veg out in front of the tube.
Storage Wars on A & E, on the other hand, is all about digging for junk. The best way to understand how Storage Wars works is to watch this:
Storage Wars is all about the competition between the four bidders who star in the show. The bidders engage in juvenile hazing rituals. They drive up the price on units and, then, drop the unit on another bidder. They bully each other. A writer could take lessons on conflict from these guys.
The best part, though, is when they sift through the unit and find anything from flare guns, to antiques, to Picasso paintings. Of course, they end up with a lot of worthless junk, too.
Auction Hunters on Spike is a new favorite for me. Auction Hunters features the adventures of Alan Haff and Ton Jones. Haff and Jones freely admit eighty percent of the units turn out to be pure-dee junk, but the ones that don’t…wow.
Haff and Jones find lots of guns—valuable ones, not just Saturday night specials. They find antiques like games, cash registers, and slot machines. They find memorabilia from places like NASA, the Chicago Fire Department, and the California Gold Rush.
Haff and Jones are interesting because they explain how they do what they do, which appeals that part of writing fiction that is research. They talk about what it’s like to determine the value of a unit with a few seconds’ glance inside a half-dark storage unit. They talk about their bidding techniques. The best part, though, is they always know the perfect buyer for their junk. Check out Auction Hunters clips on at Spike.
Don’t get me wrong. I watch a lot of other shows besides the junk digging shows. The junk digging shows, though, say a lot about who I am and what I like to do. The stuff I can apply to my writing is an added bonus.
Do your TV viewing choices have a theme—all supernatural, all half-hour sitcoms, all reality? What do you think your TV viewing habits say about you?
Another thing I’ve slipped into this blog is the way I’m always writing, no matter what I’m doing–even if I’m watching junk digging shows on TV. If you write, do you find yourself doing that, too?