Saturday, October 08, 2011

[TV] Opposing Pawns

Opposing Pawns: I admit it. I got sucked into another reality show. Now mind you, I don't watch things like Jersey Shore or anything featuring a Kardashian. And I'll pass on the various flavors of dancing and surviving. But I admit a passing interest in the blue collar ones - American Chopper, Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Tuckers, etc. Before you point and laugh, I'm not a religious devotee; they typically run these shows several times a week and I'll often flip one on while doing other stuff (like writing this post).

Anyway, one that recently caught my eye was Pawn Stars. It's set in a pawn shop in Vegas (just up the street from the strip casinos, in fact), and either due to the location or the fame from the show, people bring in some serious cool stuff to sell or pawn. And I love cool stuff. I couldn't care less about the manufactured interpersonal drama, and luckily they don't really overplay that. It's all about the stuff. Really, I'm going to make a point of stopping in the shop next time I'm in Vegas.

But it's nothing like any pawn shop you've ever been in. Pawn shops are generally dreary places loaded with cheap jewelry pawned by assorted marginal characters for tiny amounts of cash which is subsequently invested in Colt 45. Enter a competing show: Hardcore Pawn. (Note how I forewent a pawn/porn play on words for the title of this post, instead going for a chess reference. From this you should conclude I have a lot of class.)

If Pawn Stars is Barney Miller, Hardcore Pawn is COPS. No Vegas sunshine here. Hardcore Pawn is set in Detroit, right on the infamous Eight Mile Rd., about three miles from where I grew up. Judging from the show, about half of their customers get ushered out the door by a posse of enormous bouncers when they don't get the deals they want. People try to pawn all sorts of things -- underwear, broken garden tools, all manner of fake jewelry. Every encounter is on the edge of rationality and carries the potential for outright violence. To summarize, it is pure, distilled Detroit. Disturbingly compelling.

Also, this business of watching reality TV, even decent reality TV, means I need to get back to writing.