Pawn Stars

by DJ

The reality television show I watched for this assignment was “Pawn Stars” from the History Channel.  This show follows the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop and the people who work there, mainly the Harrison family that owns the store. Most of the show follows people who bring antique items into the store, and them haggling over the value and price of the items. I normally cannot stand reality television shows, as I am usually far more interested in other kinds of shows.  However, this one is interesting to me mainly by virtue of being on the history channel. There is a focus on the history on the items being sold in their pawn shop, giving it some educational value which makes it less mindless entertainment than most other reality television shows.

Although it is a reality show, it is interesting how few of the typical problems that I associate with reality television are present in this show. Because of the focus on the business activities and the historical items, there is less need for misrepresentation or fake drama in the show. I have to assume that the history is mostly accurate for the items shown on the show, so they could not be making that up for the sake of the show. However, they obviously do show only the most interesting items that pass through the store, and it could be considered dramatization because it seems like everything that goes on in the store is interesting. A conventional pawn shop’s business would be based on more basic items like jewelry and electronics. The items on the show are not typical, making this less of a realistic show. This missing realism is used because the few antiques are far more interesting and allow for educational history information. This is not that bad of a reason, so I do not see it as a problem of the show that should be changed.

There does occasionally appear to be framing done during the episodes to create some extra drama in the show, such as conflicts between the employees. It seems clear sometimes that they have edited scenes to create a small narrative with some items, such as the employees testing guns at a range. These are not exact representations, and do not paint an exact picture of the business in a pawn shop. These edits are done to make things more interesting for viewers, but seem to me to be relatively harmless. If there is product placement in the show, it is very subtle as I do not notice anything. Perhaps some of the antiques items are sponsored by the companies they came from, but these antiques don’t seem like very useful advertisements. Overall, I find this show to be a good example of a reality television show that is educational and interesting without as many of the issues that most other reality TV has.


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