Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pawn Stars: The Best Show on TV

I don’t watch a lot of television. I like to tell myself that my lack of proficiency in the world of television is because I was deeply moved by David Foster Wallace’s “E. Unibus Pluram” (lamenting the television culture), at a young age; however, it is actually due to my perpetual forgetfulness. That being said, I thoroughly enjoy the wonders of television, and when I have the time – or more frequently when I don’t have the time, I watch many low-budget shows. I have recently discovered a show that manages to completely captivate me for the full 23 minutes of streaming online glory: Pawn Stars on the History Channel. Pawn Stars (yes, I spelled that correctly) is a show that follows the daily dealings of a pawnshop on the Las Vegas Strip.
I, unfortunately, have never experienced the wonders of a pawnshop first hand. My only knowledge of the world of pawn was alongside the seedy underbelly of society in crime dramas. Just as I know that it doesn’t take a full team of detectives to solve a single murder in three days, it is also my understanding that there is a legitimate use for pawnshops in the United States; however, I have always seen them as a place where I will obtain illicit materials after my inevitable jailbreak. Pawn Stars challenged my preconceived notions of pawnshops because it follows the daily operations of (what appears to be) a completely legitimate business, hence syndication on the History Channel.
In the short and sweet format of the half hour program, the audience meets Richard, Rick, and Corey Harrison, who span three generations of pawn stardom. What makes this show of particular interest to me is the wide range of goods that moves through the shop. The goods are better deemed artifacts because those selected for the show have incredible histories behind them, ranging from revolutionary war guns to vintage coke machines. Experts are frequently called in to determine authenticity and to estimate value, adding depth to the simple format of the show. There are also frequent forays into interpersonal relationships, which, although incredibly kitschy, provide a humorous break from the often technical and tense negotiations in the shop.
TV Guide described the show as: “One part Antiques Roadshow, a pinch of L.A. Ink, and a dash of Cops,” making Pawn Stars one of the best shows on television.

Alex Green

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